Oral argument: Apr. 20, 2011
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Feb. 1, 2010)
ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE, FIDUCIARY EXCEPTION, JICARILLA APACHE NATION, INDIAN TUCKER ACT, TRUST BENEFICIARY
In 2002, the Jicarilla Apache Nation (“Jicarilla,” “Jicarilla Tribe” or “Tribe”) filed a breach of trust action against the United States, alleging mismanagement of funds held in trust for the Tribe. In 2008, Jicarilla moved to compel the production of a few hundred documents exchanged between the government and its attorneys, but the government refused to disclose nearly 160 documents on the ground of attorney-client privilege. The Court of Federal Claims subsequently granted Jicarilla’s motion to compel production of the documents, and the Federal Circuit affirmed. Now, the United States argues that disclosure of the documents was unwarranted because no statute or regulation specifically requires the disclosure. The Jicarilla Tribe, however, contends that the government must be treated like an ordinary private trustee and forced to disclose information exchanged with its attorneys.