In People v. Tamborrino, decided in 1989, the California Court of Appeal held that a trial judge's violation of the criminal defendant's attorney-client privilege, in the presence of the jury, constituted harmless error. The rule relied upon by the court was that an error is harmless if the court concludes beyond a reasonable doubt that the evidence complained of did not contribute to the conviction. This Casenote discusses whether this harmless error rule should apply when the trial judge invades the attorney-client privilege or whether the error should be automatically reversible. The Casenote analyzes both federal and California constitutional law. The author proposes that an inquisition by the trial judge regarding confidential attorney-client communications, in the presence of a jury, should be grounds for automatic reversal under both the Federal Constitution and California Constitution.
Charles R. Kimmel,
People v. Tamborrino: Should Inquiry by a Trial Judge into Confidential Communication between the Attorney and the Accused Be Harmless Error,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol28/iss2/7