Debevoise & Plimpton

Work emails to spouses may not be protected by marital privilege

Yesterday in a criminal case, United States v Hamilton, 2012 WL 6000731, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that emails the defendant sent to his wife over his employer’s email system were properly admitted as evidence against him. At the time he sent the emails, his employer had no computer usage policy, but it subsequently adopted a policy providing that “users have no expectation of privacy in their use of the Computer System”. The court held that because the defendant failed to delete his old messages once he knew that policy was in effect, he waived his privacy rights and the messages could be used against him…

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