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Whether or not Malibu lawyer Elizabeth Rafeedie ratted out her relatives after advising them on the perils of operating a car-theft ring has no bearing on the evidence subsequently gathered by sheriff’s deputies. That was the finding Monday of Los Angeles’ 2nd District Court of Appeal, which refused to quash a search warrant and evidence gathered against Alejandro, Edward and Donna Navarro as the result of calls by a confidential informant assumed to be Rafeedie. “The informant provided [a deputy] information, which the deputy investigated and corroborated,” Justice Laurence Rubin wrote in People v. Navarro, 05 C.D.O.S. 7311. “If that informant were Elizabeth, nothing in the record even remotely suggests government misconduct in procuring information from her. “Instead, the deputies were no more than passive recipients of information that was voluntarily supplied.” Justices Candace Cooper and Paul Boland concurred. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies searched the Navarros’ auto body repair shop in 2002, acting on tips provided by a confidential informant during 10 to 40 telephone conversations, 90 percent of them placed voluntarily by the informant. Although it was never disclosed whether Rafeedie was the source, her brothers Alejandro and Edward and her sister-in-law Donna insisted she was the informant and argued that any evidence gathered as a result was impermissible because it breached the attorney-client privilege. The appeal court, which stayed the trial court proceedings and issued an order to show cause, assumed — “for the purposes of discussion” — that Rafeedie was the informant. After doing so, the court ruled that the Navarros’ Sixth Amendment right to counsel wasn’t violated because Rafeedie allegedly had advised them about the likely legal dangers they faced before charges were filed. “The constitutional right to counsel does not attach until charges are actually brought,” Rubin wrote. The court also ruled out any Fifth Amendment violation to due process, saying that criminal defendants must show that the government knew an attorney-client relationship existed, deliberately intruded into it and caused prejudice as a result. “That the police are mere passive recipients of privileged information, then act on that information, is not enough to satisfy the second element of deliberate intrusion,” Rubin wrote. “Instead, some level of outrageous conduct, such as actively instigating or orchestrating a lawyer’s breach of the attorney-client privilege, must occur.” The court mentioned in passing that the Navarros — as “a pyrrhic victory from behind bars” — have alluded to seeking tort damages from Rafeedie and reporting her to the State Bar for possible discipline. But in a footnote, the justices wouldn’t comment on the “validity” of any civil claims or the “propriety” of any State Bar proceedings. Rafeedie, a solo practitioner who graduated from Boalt Hall School of Law, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. Angelyn Gates, a staff attorney at South Pasadena’s Criminal Defense Associates who represented the Navarros, could not be reached for comment. Los Angeles-based Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Kline, who argued for the state, would only say that he was “very pleased with the result.” “We believe the court reached the appropriate conclusion,” he said.

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