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The Bar Association of San Francisco Opposes Warrantless Wiretapping Program

November 30, 2006 - San Francisco - The Board of Directors of The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) has joined other bar associations across the country in filing a brief in opposition to a warrantless surveillance program employed by the National Security Administration (NSA).

In August 2006, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program was unconstitutional. The NSA has appealed that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Believing the program threatens the value of the privileged attorney-client relationship, BASF, along with The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Beverly Hills Bar Association, Boston Bar Association, and Los Angeles County Bar Association, urges the U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to uphold the lower court ruling.

"It is important for BASF to join with bar associations across the United States to take a stand on NSA surveillance programs and any other programs that threaten the legal process ," said Joan Haratani, BASF president.

In acting, the BASF board believes that the NSA program has the potential to dissuade those who perceive themselves as potential targets from seeking the advice of counsel - a right protected under the First Amendment's free speech clause and the Sixth Amendment's guarantee to effective counsel.

In their brief, the bar associations said, "The NSA surveillance program threatens to undermine a fundamental principle of a just legal system. That justice requires that persons accused by the government of wrongdoing have access to legal advice and that such legal advice can only be effective if lawyer-client communications are conducted in confidence, uninhibited by fears that government agents are listening."

The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of over 8,000 attorneys, law students and legal professionals in the Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF is one of the largest and most dynamic metropolitan bar associations in the U.S., with a long and distinguished record of community action, public service and service to the legal profession.

Questions about media relations, BASF issues currently in the news, San Francisco Attorney magazine, marketing and communications:

Ann Murphy, Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8792

For general communications inquiries:

Sayre Happich, Assistant Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8104