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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Supreme Court rules no immediate right to appeal disclosure orders
Jaclyn Belczyk at 10:08 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday ruled [opinion, PDF] in Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] that disclosure orders adverse to the attorney-client privilege do not qualify for immediate appeal under the collateral order doctrine. The Court affirmed the decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which ruled [opinion, PDF] that there is no such right to an immediate appeal. Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered the opinion of the court, writing:

The question before us is whether disclosure orders adverse to the attorney-client privilege qualify for immediate appeal under the collateral order doctrine. Agreeing with the Court of Appeals, we hold that they do not. Postjudgment appeals, together with other review mechanisms, suffice to protect the rights of litigants and preserve the vitality of the attorney-client privilege.

Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion. The Court's ruling resolves a circuit split on the issue.

Federal appeals courts have jurisdiction to review "final decisions of the district courts" under Section 1291 of the Judicial Code [text]. Final judgments include prejudmgnet orders that are "collateral to" the merits of an action. Petitioner Mohawk Industries argued that disclosure orders adverse to attorney-client privilege were "collateral to" the merits of the case.

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