Catholic University Law Review


Amelia H. Barry


The attorney-client privilege is vital to inmates who otherwise have limited opportunities for private communications in prison. Traditionally, inmates have only been able to communicate with their attorneys via in-person visits, phone calls, and mailed letters. As federal inmates have begun using e-mail to converse with their attorneys, courts have had to determine if these conversations are protected by the attorney-client privilege. This Comment discusses courts’ approaches to this question, many of which have found that inmates’ e-mail communications with their attorneys are not privileged because by using the federal prison e-mail system, which warns users that conversations can be monitored, they have waived their right to a private conversation. In addition, courts have held that an inmate’s constitutional right to access counsel is not violated because inmates have several other ways of communicating with their attorneys. This Comment proposes a solution in which courts treat e-mails in the same way as other forms of inmate communication so that attorney-client e-mail communications are privileged when certain rules are followed.