There is no federal or state constitutional right to maintain the privacy of tax returns. However, California courts have interpreted state taxation statutes as creating a statutory privilege against the disclosure of tax returns. The purpose is to encourage voluntary filing of tax reporting of income and thus to facilitate tax collection.
The privilege is not absolute. It will not be upheld in three situations: when (1) the circumstances indicate an intentional waiver of the privilege; (2) the gravamen of the lawsuit is inconsistent with the privilege; or (3) a public policy greater than that of the confidentiality of tax returns is involved. This last exception is narrow and applies only “when warranted by a legislatively declared public policy.” Continue reading
In a lawsuit between an attorney and a client based on an alleged breach of a duty arising from the attorney-client relationship, attorney-client communications relevant to the breach are not protected by the attorney-client privilege. If multiple clients retain or consult with an attorney on a matter of common interest and the joint clients later sue each other, the communications between either client and the attorney made in the course of that relationship are not privileged in the suit between the clients. Continue reading
The Second Appellate District adopts a bright line exception to the anti-SLAPP statute pursuant to the Supreme Court opinion in Flatley v. Muro: The statute does not apply to any litigation communications which constitute criminal extortion as a matter of law. Continue reading
Witness statements obtained through an attorney-directed interview are entitled to at least qualified work product protection. Coito v. Superior Court. A party seeking disclosure has the burden of establishing that denial of disclosure will unfairly prejudice the party in preparing its claim or defense or will result in an injustice. If the party resisting discovery alleges that a witness statement, or portion thereof, is absolutely protected because it reflects an attorney’s impressions, conclusions, opinions, or legal research or theories, that party must make a preliminary or foundational showing in support of its claim. The trial court should then make an in camera inspection to determine whether absolute work product protection applies to some or all of the material. Continue reading