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When a lawyer turns informant on an inmate, repeatedly wired

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Potential clients visiting my office often ask: "Is this meeting confidential?" I answer, "Of course."

Now, my honest assurances of confidentiality both for potential clients and retained clients might sometimes get scrutinized, after the horrific ordeal allegedly suffered by Shannon Williams, a jail inmate who claims he hired lawyer Terry L. Haddock — whose current law firm does not even list criminal defense as one of its practice areas — who reportedly acted as a government informant from the get-go, concerning allegedly ongoing drug deals and violent enforcement orders allegedly made by Mr. Williams through Mr. Haddock’s cellphone. 

Lead investigator John Stuck apparently confirmed in court recently that attorney Haddock had been acting as an informant on Shannon Williams, but insisted that in "the very first (jail) contact with Mr. Williams, Mr. Haddock explained that he is not his attorney and would not do any legal work for him at all … Mr. Williams understood." How does it make sense that Mr. Haddock’s multiple jail visits to Mr. Williams were meant to create any impression other than that Mr. Williams had an attorney-client relationship with Mr. Haddock?

This whole story is too shockingly bizarre — and puts Mr. Haddock’s reputation and law enforcement’s integrity on the line — for me to rely on just one newspaper account for its accuracy. I looked up Mr. Williams’s pending federal prosecution on PACER (here is the current case docket), but found no documents available online there that might address Mr. Haddock’s role in this case.

Thanks to a fellow listserv member for posting this news story. Jon Katz

ADDENDUM: Thanks, Mark Bennett, for your comment to this blogposting. I visited Mark’s January 4, 2010, blogposting on this case and listened to cross-examination — linked in Mark’s blog entry — from Shannon Williams’s detention hearing. Starting at around 48 minutes into the hearing, defense counsel begins cross-examining officer John Stuck by immediately addressing lawyer John Haddock. Officer Stuck confirms that law enforcement would have Mr. Haddock go into the jail wired up to record his conversation with Mr. Williams. This would suggest that the jail knew Mr. Haddock was coming in wired, unless this is a jail that does not require lawyers to clear a metal detector. Officer Stuck presided over a grossly sticky and fishy situation with Mr. Haddock.