For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Bryan Fisher, (202) 675-2312,
media@dcaclu.org

ACLU

ACLU Applauds DOJ Revision of Right to Counsel Policy

Says Congress must act to guarantee right

WASHINGTON - The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded the Department of Justice's effort to better protect the American people from overzealous investigations by revising its policy on the right to counsel. However, the ACLU points out that this policy has been revised, at the whim of the deputy attorney general, five times in the last ten years. In order to guarantee a clear and consistent application of this important legal principle, the ACLU urges senators to pass the Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act of 2008 (S. 3217) to permanently protect the right to counsel. The legislation was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and has 13 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate.

The following can be attributed to Michael Macleod-Ball, Chief Legislative and Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"The right to counsel is a cornerstone of our legal system, and the ACLU is pleased that the Department of Justice has revised its policy towards it. The ambiguity that shrouded this principle over the past decade has had a chilling effect on the relationship between attorney and client. When individuals cannot speak frankly with counsel, there is an increased risk that well-meaning people will unwittingly break the law."

"Moreover, the new policy makes it more likely that companies will live up to promises made to employees to provide legal defense and the ability to pay for it. This ought to be made part of law and we encourage the Senate to take up and pass Attorney-Client Privilege Protection Act."

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