The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled a lawyer has to testify against his former client in a mortgage fraud case, reaffirming a rare exception to the attorney-client privilege. The idea that lawyers and their clients should be able to communicate confidentially is one of the oldest principles in our legal system. But if someone communicates with a lawyer in order to further a crime, the privilege no longer exists. That's called the "crime-fraud exception." In this case, the lawyer is Mark Helfand. Prosecutors charged him with helping his client, Budimir Radojcic, run a mortgage fraud scheme. They want Helfand to testify against his client. Emily Wood, who represented Radojcic before the Supreme Court, argues that's a misuse of the exception:
"The crime-fraud exception is not a discovery mechanism. The state's interest in gathering evidence does not overcome attorney-client privilege."
The Supreme Court disagrees. It ruled because the state offered evidence that Radojcic and Helfand's communication furthered the scheme, attorney-client privilege no longer applies. Radojcic was first charged in 2007. The court's decision means his case can now go to trial.
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