June 8, 2020
We respond to your inquiry (20-72) asking if you may appear in a commercially produced documentary concerning a deceased former client and his/her family. You are a full-time judge, and the representation terminated over 30 years ago. You also ask if the attorney-client privilege is abrogated or otherwise affected by the former client’s death.
Attorney-client privilege is a legal question, not an ethical one, and thus we cannot address it (see Opinions 04-123; 08-62).
If you may legally discuss the former representation, then you may, without compensation, participate in an interview for a commercially produced documentary concerning that representation, provided the case has completely terminated and no related proceedings are pending or impending (see Opinion 17/163/18-03/18-21).
Please see enclosed Opinions 17/163/18-03/18-21; 04-123; 08-62 for more detailed guidance.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc Justice
Appellate Div., First Dept. (Ret)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice