Monday, February 14, 2005

HLC Properties, Inc. v. Superior Court (Cal. Supreme Court - February 14, 2005)

You can be star-struck even if you're on the California Supreme Court.

Here's a case about whether particular documents remained privileged. The only complicated part of the case is that the client is dead but conducted most of his business operations through a loose association of personal assistants. So the issue is whether the privilege is waived because the client-holder is dead or whether, on the facts of this particular case, the loose association of assistants was the holder, in which case the successor to that loose association still holds the privilege.

The case revolves almost entirely around its unique facts; whether the individual was really the holder or whether the loose association was the holder. This is not a case of general importance. It does not involve facts that happen all the time. It is not a matter that has split the Court of Appeals. The case was so important that it generated no amicus briefs, either below or in the California Supreme Court. The issue was that critical.

So why did the case go up? Besides error-correction -- and if the California Supremes want to start getting into that business, they better start canceling their vacations -- the only explanation for granting review is the title of the case; particularly, "HLC Properties." Which stands for "Harry Lillis Crosby". A.k.a., Bing Crosby. Who happens to be the particular dead holder at issue.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Cal Supremes would have taken this fact-specific, unpercolated case up even if it involved someone who wasn't rich and famous. Just like they did when they previously took up those many other fact-specific, unpercolated attorney-client privilege cases. Like, uh . . . . well, I'm sure they exist somewhere. Just sure of it.

Always good to see a little thumb on the scale for the rich and powerful. Especially the rich, powerful, and dead. They definitely need a little extra help.