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ART BUCHWALD

Starr Leaves Everybody Speechless

June 17, 1998|ART BUCHWALD

Aday doesn't go by that Ken Starr doesn't scare the heck out of me. The latest fright came when I read that he had gone to the Supreme Court to demand access to the notes Vincent Foster's lawyer, James Hamilton, had made when talking confidentially to his client.

Starr claimed the lawyer-client privilege does not hold up when the client is dead.

As soon as I read the story, I went to see my lawyer, Robert Brownley.

"Can we talk in confidence?" I asked him.

"I'm not too sure. Suppose you die and Starr demands to know what we talked about?"

"He wouldn't do that."

"Starr will do anything he has to, to get a conviction. Frankly, this is the first time the question of dead clients has come up, except possibly in 'Murder Inc.' Do you know sign language?"

"Why?"

"Let's resort to sign language. That way when the special prosecutor wants to know what we said to each other, I can honestly say, 'Nothing.' "

"If Starr wins, does this mean when someone dies, conversations he had with his lawyer will wind up in front of a grand jury?"

"Something like that. When Starr is on a rampage, there is no telling where he will go. As your lawyer, I can no longer guarantee that this conversation will be off the record. I can't even guarantee it won't appear in the National Enquirer."

"Then what should I do?"

"Don't say anything. Keep your thoughts to yourself. Pretend that Linda Tripp is bugging you with a tape recorder. That's the best advice I can give you until the Supreme Court decides if Starr slipped on a banana peel."

"It makes sense," I said. "At the same time, I do need your help on a small matter that may or may not get me in trouble with the IRS."

"Stop. I don't want to hear any more. If you are admitting you did something wrong, this could be the end of my career as a lawyer."

"I'm sorry I bothered you."

"No problem. That will be $450 for the best part of an hour."

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