I read a story in the paper today about a lawyer who was one of three who signed an affidavit in 1982 stating that one of the men they represented told them that another man (Alton Logan) represented by one of the other attorneys, was innocent of the crime of murder. The man making the confession to the lawyer said he was the one who did the killing, that Alton Logan had nothing to do with it. Knowing that he could not break the attorney-client privilege, the attorney representing the real killer did the only thing he felt he could do--have the other lawyers involved sign the affidavit with him and put the affidavit in a safe place until the real perp was executed or died in prison. His death sentence was commuted and he died in prison recently. Now they lawyers have come out with the affidavit. Will that help an innocent man who has been incarcerated the last 26 years--since he was 28 years old?
Who knows? But even if it does help, the man spent 28 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Anyone who knew and did nothing to help did this man a terrible injustice.
Attorney-client privilege is important but if it were me personally I do not think I could live with myself if I held evidence which supported the innocence of a person sent to prison. I do not think my conscience would let me. How did these lawyers sit on this all these years? Some might say that they weren't being selfish--they knew that they could still do good work and help others, so why sacrifice their legal career. But for me, I could not be a party to the incarceration of an innocent human being. Now there's no way to know that the innocent man would have been freed had the lawyers broke the confidence but...it would have been the moral thing to try anyway.
Sure they would have faced disbarment and all the years they spent helping people afterwards never would have been. If this were me, I think that the right thing to do is to tell what I knew and face the consequences of my actions. In the end, I would know I did the right thing.