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May 12, 2010 12:14 PM

Attorney-Client Privilege Fails to Cover Up Nude Photo for White-Collar Defendant

Posted by Zach Lowe

Here's one we haven't heard before, via the Los Angeles Times: Sacramento, Calif., authorities have banned a law firm paralegal from a county jail after she brought a firm client a package marked "Atty Client" that contained an emery board and a nude photograph of one of the client's girlfriends holding tomatoes over her breasts. Ahem. 

The contents of the package are not what we'd normally consider to be covered by the attorney-client privilege, and the authorities in Sacramento agreed. Despite the fact that the paralegal from the four-lawyer firm Segal & Kirby didn't know she was delivering a produce pin-up, they banned her from visiting the firm's client, Frederick Scott Salyer, the Times reports.

The motive behind the strategically placed tomatoes in the photograph makes sense (well, a little) considering that Salyer is the cofounder of the tomato processing agribusiness SK Foods, according to the Times. He is charged with racketeering and price-fixing and has pleaded not guilty. 

Authorities at the Sacramento Main County Jail had already noted that Salyer seemed to be using the jail's legal mailing system for personal communications, so they were on the lookout for something like this, court records show. Jail officials search all inmate mail but stop the search when they see anything protected by attorney-client privilege, the Times reports. Malcolm Segal, Salyer's lead attorney, told the newspaper the contents of the package "came as a shock" to the law firm. He said the firm had been regularly forwarding mail to Salyer during his incarceration, adding that Salyer's girlfriend may have included the emery board because Salyer had been complaining that "his nails were ragged." 

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