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kg201 posted 8/8/2014 08:53 AM

I have copies of emails between my X and a lawyer regarding an issue that is holding up our divorce. These emails I saved when I still had access to her computer soon after dday. I think they could be helpful to me to show her intentions on the issue are different than what she is currently saying.

My question is whether bringing these emails into court is legal? Since these were her personal emails that were open on a computer that was used both as a business computer and a personal computer at home, are they considered out of bounds? In other words, am I opening myself up to some sort of sanctions if I introduce them in court?

hurtbs posted 8/8/2014 08:57 AM

kg201 - it really depends on the laws in your state. You will need to check with your attorney.

devistatedmom posted 8/8/2014 09:06 AM

kg, I don't think you can, but I think your lawyer can, since they were sent to him/her!

kg201 posted 8/8/2014 09:12 AM

Devistatedmom, these were emails between my X and a different lawyer. She was trying to set up a trust with her life insurance money. My lawyer was not involved.

gonnabe2016 posted 8/8/2014 09:21 AM

I'm thinking that your best bet is to NOT use the actual emails.....I don't know the specific laws regarding this, but the bits and pieces that I do know lead me to think that you probably shouldn't.

However. You cannot unknow what you now know. This information has given you a thread that you can pull, hasn't it? It's given you a different frame of reference on the issue and may allow your L to frame interrogatory questions or discovery requests in a way that will pull the information right out of the horse's mouth, kwim?

hopingforhappy posted 8/8/2014 09:31 AM

I beleive that any correspondence between your WW and a lawyer who was representing her is going to be subject to attorney-client privilege, which will make it inadmissable in court. So, there is no reason to open yourself up to the question of whether it was proper for you to be reading those e-mails (and it may not have been, depending on the laws in your state, as hurbs pointed out). You can, however, as gonnabe suggested, use the information that you have to ask questions and try to gain information on your own regarding her intentions. She can always lie about it though and you will not be able to use the communications with her lawyer to show that she is lying. It is still better than nothing.

Maxiom posted 8/8/2014 11:30 AM

I can't imagine where the content of those e-mails would matter anyway. Unless and agreement is signed by both involved parties you are free to change your mind as often as you wish. There would be absolutely nothing binding there.

LifeIsBroken posted 8/8/2014 16:18 PM

A friend of a friend who divorced her husband wrote her thesis on email privacy; actually, she and 2 others shared the writing of the thesis and did a great deal of research. She told me there is no wiggle room, that as long as those emails are on a computer used for business, there is NO privacy and the emails are fair game. I printed many emails between the slunt and xh, both written and photos, and my lawyer entered them as exhibits at our hearing while questioning both the slunt and xh.

crisp posted 8/8/2014 19:25 PM

The attorney client privilege is only good if it has not been waived. Waiver can be either an affirmative waiver or by actions. An example of an action that waives the privilege is when the client has another person participate in the communication with the lawyer, or discloses it to another. Your situation is a little gray since it will not be clear whether she left her communications open for you to see (and therefore waived the privilege) or if she kept things private and you violated her privacy.

A second issue is if this tidbit really is useful. Do you have a lawyer? If so, your attorney will be able to sift through it.

crisp posted 8/8/2014 19:59 PM

I will assume you are pro se and will not be able to run this by an attorney. So, here is more on the subject. Privilege issues and admissibility of evidence usually come up in the context of jury trials and what the judge will allow to come before a jury. Since most divorce matters are what is called "in equity" and not "at law," a jury almost certainly not be involved. What all that means is the same person who would look at the admissibility of the email is also the trier of fact when making the rulings on the divorce.

The judge might exclude the email and then use it in his/her mind when ruling on the real issue that concerns you. The only down side for taking this tact would be if it is not particularly helpful on the issue and the judge thinks poorly of you (thinks you invaded privacy or something).

[This message edited by crisp at 8:00 PM, August 8th (Friday)]

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