Friday, March 19, 2004

Attorney-client case again before court

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

In the latest skirmish over attorney-client secrets in a missing child case, prosecutors Thursday asked the Ohio Supreme Court to stick to its earlier decision ordering a lawyer to reveal what a now-deceased client may have shared about the 1999 disappearance of Erica Baker.

"There is nothing in this decision that the court has overlooked or got wrong," Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias H. Heck Jr. said in a document filed with the Supreme Court. "(The attorney's) theories have received a thorough airing in the Common Pleas Court, the Court of Appeals and this Court."

Lawyers representing Dayton-area attorney Beth Lewis have asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its precedent-setting March 3 decision that Lewis must tell what client Jan Marie Franks, who died in 2001, may have known about Erica. The girl was 9 when she disappeared in Kettering.

Prosecutors want Lewis to answer a grand jury's questions about tips that Franks might have been in a van that accidentally struck EricaTipsters claimed that van's occupants panicked and disposed of Erica's body, her relatives said.

The Supreme Court and two other courts said Lewis would be compelled to testify under a 1953 Ohio law. The law says a surviving spouse may waive a deceased spouse's attorney-client privilege.


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