Communications involving Erie County, Pa., officials and an assistant county attorney about a suit over the county’s strip-search policy are privileged unless otherwise waived, according to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a holding of first impression that could significantly expand the attorney-client privilege of public officials, the circuit ruled that a broad array of discussions about political and policy matters can be shielded as long as the “predominant purpose” of the communications is legal advice.

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