Washington Law Review




A recent Washington case examines the attorney's dilemma. In Dike v. Dike, the Washington Supreme Court reviewed a summary contempt conviction imposed upon an attorney for refusing to reveal the whereabouts of his client, the defendant in a pending divorce action. The client had removed her daughter from the temporary court-awarded custody of a third party, and would not return the child. Having failed to answer a motion to hold his client in contempt for violating the custody order, the attorney was directed to appear, and either produce the defendant or show cause why he could not produce her. The attorney appeared, but refused to divulge his client's whereabouts, contending that the information was privileged and that disclosure would violate the Canons of Professional Ethics. The court then instructed a deputy sheriff to handcuff the attorney and remove him to the county jail. After being fingerprinted, booked and photographed, the attorney was released on $5000 bail. On appeal the Washington Supreme Court held that the order to disclose was neither unlawful nor erroneous. Ordinarily, such determinations would suffice to uphold the contempt conviction under either of the previously discussed rules for review. The Washington court, however, vacated the contempt order and absolved the attorney from further punishment.

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