People v. Belge

372 N.Y.S.2d 798 (1975)


Garrow was charged with the crime of murder. Garrow was assigned two attorneys, Frank H. Armani and D. A defense of insanity was considered. D also discovered that Garrow committed three other murders. D conducted his own investigation based upon what his client had told him. The location of the body of Alicia Hauck was found in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse. D personally inspected the body and was satisfied, presumably, that this was the Alicia Hauck that Garrow had told him that he murdered. P had already suspected that Garrow had committed additional murders. D did not disclose his findings to the authorities. D did suggest to P that he had information about the other missing persons and that he could provide such information if P plea bargained and accepted Garrow's insanity defense. P rejected the offer and then threatened D with obstruction of justice and withholding evidence. D's information became public during the trial of Garrow when to affirmatively establish the defense of insanity, three other murders were brought before the jury. Public indignation reached the fever pitch. The Grand Jury of Onondaga County, then sitting, conducted a thorough investigation. An indictment was returned as against D accusing him of having violated subdivision 1 of section 4200 of the Public Health Law, which, requires that a decent burial be accorded the dead, and section 4143 of the Public Health Law, which, requires anyone knowing of the death of a person without medical attendance, to report the same to the proper authorities. D moved to dismiss in that a confidential, privileged communication existed between him and Garrow, which should excuse an attorney from making full disclosure to the authorities. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, in amicus curiae succinctly state the issue in the following language: If this indictment stands, 'The attorney-client privilege will be effectively destroyed. No defendant will be able to freely discuss the facts of his case with his attorney. No attorney will be able to listen to those facts without being faced with the Hobson's choice of violating the law or violating his professional code of Ethics.'