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Nine former senior officials with the Department of Justice have called on the Judiciary Committees in both houses of Congress to support legislation to bolster attorney-client privilege. In a two-page letter sent July 30, the former top officials urged Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Representative John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to support a “measured legislative solution to the continued erosion of the attorney-client privilege.” The letter follows one sent in September to U.S Attorney General Alberto Gonzales asserting that the Department of Justice’s “carrot-and-stick approach” to seeking waiver of the attorney-client privilege in corporate corruption cases harmed clients and the public. The July 30 letter contends that the department’s revised cooperation standards, known as the McNulty Memorandum, named for former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, “maintains the fundamental flaws” of the department’s prior guidelines under former Attorney General John Ashcroft. The Justice Department has come under fire for requiring defendants to waive attorney-client privilege in order to demonstrate cooperation in corporate corruption cases. Opponents of the McNulty memo claim that it does not go far enough in protecting the privilege and that legislation is required to do so. Bills are pending in the House and Senate intended to stop government abuse of the privilege. Signing the July 30 letter were former attorneys general Edwin Meese and Dick Thornburgh. Former acting attorney general Stuart Gerson also signed, as did former deputy attorneys general Carol Dinkins and Jamie Gorelick. Three former solicitors general also signed: Theodore Olson, Kenneth Starr and Seth Waxman. Walter Dellinger, former acting solicitor general signed as well. McNulty resigned from the Justice Department in May. He has joined Baker & McKenzie’s litigation practice in Washington.

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