A Missouri lawyer’s client, the husband in a divorce suit, hacked his wife’s email by guessing her email password. The husband found information that could be useful during his divorce case and gave it to his attorney, Mr. Joel Eisenstein. The information included the wife’s payroll documents and a list of direct examination questions prepared by the wife’s lawyer for the upcoming divorce trial.
This fruit of the poisonous tree was then used in a settlement conference. When the settlement fell through and the case went to trial, Mr. Eisenstein accidentally gave the wife’s lawyer the list of direct examination questions when tendering exhibits during trial. When confronted by Opposing Counsel regarding the questions, Mr. Eisenstein admitted that he viewed the information given to him by his client and did not disclose it to the other side.
Later, knowing he was in hot water, Mr. Eisenstein sent the Opposing Counsel an email that read, “Rumor has it that you quite the gossip regarding our little spat in court. Be careful what you say. I’m not someone you really want to make a lifelong enemy of, even though you are off to a pretty good start.”
The Missouri Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Mr. Eisenstein with leave to apply for reinstatement in six months. Long story short, clients should never be encouraged to illegally obtain information from their spouse. If a client does find information, such as privileged attorney-client emails, their attorney should let Opposing Counsel know of the break in confidentiality immediately