State v. Madera

In State v. Madera, 112 P.3d 688, 691-93 (Colo. 2005), the prosecution served a subpoena on Madera's former attorney seeking all documents relating to the representation and asserting that Madera impliedly waived the attorney-client privilege by seeking to withdraw his guilty plea on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. Id. at 689. The trial court denied Madera's motion to quash the subpoena, found Madera waived the attorney-client privilege, and ordered his former attorney to turn over the documents for in camera review. Id. On appeal, the court found the order was premature, explaining that "a trial court should be reluctant to review the contents of an attorney's case file precisely because of the importance of the privileges involved. In camera disclosure to the court is still a form of disclosure." Id. at 691. The Court articulated several factors a court should consider before granting a request for in camera inspection of an attorney's case file, including: (1) whether the information sought is relevant to a matter at issue; (2) whether the information could be obtained by any other means; (3) whether the information is privileged; (4) if so, whether the privilege has been waived; and (5) if waived, the extent of the waiver. Id. The court also noted that before resorting to an in camera inspection, "the moving party must show that the other means of resolving the dispute have been exhausted and that the requested relief is narrowly tailored." Id. at 693.