Interlude 8B. The Ronald N. Gottschalk Matter and the Ethics of Confidentiality: A Test of Principle
On privilege-level matter, by policy, I incorporate into my fiduciary duty guarantees stronger than any attorney can offer and broaden their scope to include my authorship of any work product. I treat express personal guarantees as binding as core privilege-level substantial confidences. Privilege-level matter is subject to an absolute privilege that I refuse to breach, even if compelled by order or prosecution or justified by litigation. No attorney can offer this guarantee without accepting disbarment for bad-faith disobedience to court orders. (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 6103.)
Applying the distinction between levels of confidentiality to my Gottschalk disclosures, I respected the attorney-client privilege absolutely but released matter prima facie confidential under the broader ethical standard: my knowledge of Gottschalk's skulduggery insofar as I was its target. Contrasted with the privilege level, my guarantees on broad confidentiality are only conditional. They won't necessarily survive court order or incontrovertible fraud.