Statement by Doug Schafer in response to the Washington State Supreme
I am disappointed at the harm that the Washington State Supreme Court’s ruling today will cause to the public, to the justice system, and to the legal profession. The ruling sends a clear message that client secrecy is more important than judicial system integrity. Corrupt judges and lawyers will take much comfort from the ruling. Sadly, the court rejected my conviction that an honest judiciary is so fundamental to our justice system that preserving it takes priority over keeping secrets of a client.
Justice Bobbe Bridge wrote for the court, “because of Schafer’s actions, a corrupt judge was exposed and the public was served by the judge’s removal from office.” But the ruling virtually ensures that no lawyer ever again will reveal a client’s kickback, bribe, or other criminal conspiracy involving a sitting judge.
Justice Bridge finds particular fault in my reporting Judge Anderson’s criminality to the FBI, the prosecutor’s office, and the IRS Criminal Investigations Division, thereby placing the corrupt judge and my former client at risk of prosecution, she says. I may have broken a code of silence, but not an honorable one. Justice Bridge personally maligns and discredits me as “obsessed” and on a “personal vendetta.” I invite her and other jurists and lawyers to become “obsessed” with eradicating judicial corruption when they encounter it, rather than hiding it from the public as insiders traditionally do.
The court’s ruling staggers badly on the ancient crime-fraud exception that has always denied confidential privilege to clients who use lawyers to further their crime or fraud. My former client used me to further his fraudulent conspiracy with corrupt former Judge Anderson to plunder a probate estate bequeathed to a public hospital. So his statements were not privileged.
The court’s majority opinion, in contrast to the dissenting opinion, ignores the national movement, joined last August by the Conference of Chief Justices of all the states, to restore the public interest exceptions to the bar’s confidentiality rules, so that lawyers may thwart client fraud and crime and may rectify the harm caused by client lawlessness. The court’s misguided ruling illustrates the need for the federal government to establish national ethics rules for lawyers that properly weigh public interests against the private interests of lawyers and their clients.
Scholars writing about our misguided legal profession proclaim that if it is to be saved, nonlawyers must become involved in its salvation. Citizens who disagree with the priorities and direction of the legal profession must speak out to their elected officials – judges, legislators, and Congressional representatives – and join in the reform efforts.
Citizens interested in the true facts of my case, without the spin applied by the court, may find them at http://www.DougSchafer.com. I thank my many supporters. I have not yet decided upon my future, but I expect to continue being a “public citizen.”
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