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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 111662
Experience:  Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
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My attorney is billing me for emails and texts a about my

Customer Question

My attorney is billing me for emails and texts a about my case with the prosecutor's office. When I asked if I may view these communications, his response was "no." I asked "why, I just want to view information you are charging me for as evidenced on my bill" and they said "no it's our policy." This policy is nowhere to be going on their website, retainer letter, or any previous communication to me. Am I out of line to simply request this information? A defendant has a right to order transcripts for court proceedings. I was shown a copy of the defense report they submitted. Is this legal? It strikes me as very shady. I also have had a fear there was some collusion with prosecuters to force me into a deal. I have not voiced this fear, but trust that there has been enough which does not add up which has forced me to request this information. I recognize if I don't trust my attorney it's a major problem and I would be better suited hiring someone else. As such, even if I did that, I would want this communication to help catch new attorney up to speed. Is there any legal precedent, or strong verbiage which you can think of which will help me request this information in a way they can provide me with it? Just the fact that I am being charged a lot of money for these exchanges which I am not allowed to see rings unethical, but I am not a lawyer. They are aware they have never previously stated this "policy" before.
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
The attorney is entitled to bill hourly for any emails or text messages regarding your case. However, as you are the client, you are entitled to review any correspondence or communications and if they are refusing to disclose those, then you can file a complaint with the NY Court Grievance Committee (See: https://www.nycourts.gov/attorneys/grievance/complaints.shtml)
It is against the rules of professional conduct for them to fail to communicate and share information with their client.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I agree. Where in the Professional Code though does it support my belief that I am entitled to this request? That's what I need - strong verbiage. He is hiding something - that is my gut feeling. But at minimum I have a right to be assuaged of my fear as hiring a new attorney will be an expensive and arduous process. Can a lawyer say "it's against my personal policy?" I thank you for link pointing me to grievance committee, but I would love if you could help me find the information which would back my claim via professional code of conduct.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
Rule 1.4 of the rules of professional conduct states the attorney will reasonably communicate with clients regarding their case, which includes providing you information about your case.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
http://www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/publications/model_rules_of_professional_conduct/rule_1_4_communications.html
Thank you I accessed information at above link. Can't the attorney argue that reasonably they can convey the information without having to disclose the actual texts and emails?(I want to see the actual emails and I am aghast they have been texting so regularly and I have never been made privy until I sat down and saw bill breakdown)
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Thank you for your reply.

Communication requires full disclosure to the client though, so they will not likely win that argument.