timer Asked: Apr 30th, 2020

Question Description

Read the 2 separate judicial opinions for key facts, issue identification, key law, binding and/or persuasive precedent, and holdings carefully and then read the hypothetical.

What you need to do is: you are the judge and are to write the judicial opinion on a motion to dismiss filed by the defendant in the hypothetical. Your judicial opinion should note: The parties (and their status, if important to the legal analysis); The issue for decision; All of the KEY FACTS in the hypothetical; All of the KEY LAW which can be found in EITHER OR BOTH of the 2 JUDICIAL OPINIONS; HOLDING (ultimate decision) in the hypothetical case: Last, your discussion in support of your holding: Set forth here your analysis of the facts-to-law as you explain how you came to your decision on the issue.

YOU ARE THE JUDGE. You must rule on defendant Muffin’s motion seeking (1) the return of all of her personal emails and (2) an order from the court limiting InYourHome’s ability to use any of the personal emails or their content as evidence at trial in their breach of contract lawsuit against Muffin. (PLEASE WRITE THE JUDICIAL OPINION AT THE END OF "HYPOTHETICAL" Word document. NO MORE THAN 450 WORDS.)


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You are the judge in this case. The plaintiff employer InYourHome filed a reply in opposition to the defendant Mary Muffin’s request that this Court order plaintiff employer to (1) return to Muffin all personal email communications between December 15th, 2019 and January 7th, 2020, which were left on her companyissued computer laptop when she departed the premises following her termination by InYourHome, and, further, that the employer (2) be precluded from using as evidence at trial any of these emails or any information contained in these emails in its case against defendant for breach of contract. The facts are as follows: Plaintiff employer InYourHome (‘IYH’) provides homecare nursing and health services. Defendant former employee, Mary Muffin (‘Muffin’) began working for IYH in 1994. In 2005, Muffin was promoted to Sales and Marketing Executive Director for IYH’s Mid-Atlantic States Region. At the time of her promotion to Executive Director, Muffin signed a restrictive covenant agreement with IYH, promising that if and when she left the company’s employ, for any reason, she would not work for nor in any manner compete against the business of IYH for a period of 6 months within the geographic area over which she was in charge of sales and marketing, i.e., the Mid-Atlantic States Region. She further agreed not to solicit any IYH employees to leave the company. On or about January 5th, 2020, defendant Muffin was overheard speaking in the company ladies room to her top assistant about Muffin’s plan to leave IYH and start up her own home-care nursing company. Muffin allegedly said, ‘If you leave IYH as well and join me at my new company, I’ll pay you 10% more salary than you’re making now.’ The assistant allegedly replied, ‘I’ll have to think about your offer.’ Muffin said, ‘Okay, I’ll email you later today with more info about my new company. Don’t discuss this with anyone though.’ On January 7th, 2020, Muffin was called into the offices of the President of IYH and informed she was being terminated. She was told that it was learned she was planning on quitting IYH, that she had solicited current IYH employees to leave with her, and that she planned opening a competing business. She was reminded of her obligations under the restrictive covenant agreement not to compete and not to solicit employees that she signed in 2005. Between December 15th and January 7th, 2020, the date on which Muffin was fired, Plaintiff Muffin used her company-issued laptop to exchange e-mails with her lawyer through her personal, password-protected, webbased e-mail account. She also wrote personal emails to two other IYH employees who worked in her department. Both of these two employees continue to work for IYH. Muffin signed a commercial office lease on January 13th, 2020, for premises located in Philadelphia, PA, an address inside the geographic region identified in the IYH non-compete clause. IYH learned of this and contacted its own lawyer for purposes of filing a breach of contract lawsuit against Muffin. In anticipation of the breach of contract lawsuit to be filed by IYH against Muffin, IYH hired a computer forensic expert to recover all files stored on Muffin’s assigned laptop, including all stored e-mails which had been saved automatically on the hard drive. Included in the emails read by IYH were 2 emails between Muffin and her IYH assistant dated January 5th and 6th , 2020, plus another email dated January 5th, 2020, between Muffin and another IYH employee. The subject of each of those emails was Muffin’s offer of employment to those IYH employees at her new company, starting January 25th, 2020. There also were 2 emails between Muffin and her attorney dated December 18th, 2019, discussing the terms of a commercial lease of office space located in Philadelphia, PA. Muffin’s new business office, in fact, is located at that address. IYH turned over to its litigation lawyer all of the forensic files recovered by its forensic expert from Muffin’s laptop. IYH's attorneys reviewed the e-mails and used information culled from them in drafting a civil complaint against Muffin for breach of the noncompete and no-solicitation contract provisions she signed in 2005. After being served with a copy of the breach of contract complaint filed by IYH and motion for preliminary injunction, Muffin and her attorney realized that information from her email communications with her attorney between December 15, 2019 and January 7th, 2020, had been seen and read by IYH’s attorneys. In response, Muffin's lawyer demanded that communications between him and Muffin, which he considered privileged attorney/client communications, be identified and returned. Counsel for IYH disclosed the 2 December 18th email documents but maintained that the company had the right to review them. Muffin then sought relief in this court by filing a motion for protective order requiring IYH’s lawyer to return the attorney/client emails, as well as the other 3 emails between herself and the 2 IYH employees, and, further, requesting that this court enter an order forbidding IYH from using at trial any information derived from the content of any of the Muffin emails. Specifically, defendant Muffin alleges that IYH’s lawyer violated Rule of Professional Conduct, Rule 4.4(b) by reading and using privileged attorney/client documents. Additional background facts: IYH provided Muffin with a laptop computer to conduct company business. From that laptop, she could send e-mails using her company e-mail address; she could also access the Internet and visit websites through IYH's server. Unbeknownst to Muffin, certain browser software in place automatically made a copy of each web page she viewed, which was then saved on the computer's hard drive in a "cache" folder of temporary Internet files. Unless deleted and overwritten with new data, those temporary Internet files remained on the hard drive. Between December 15th, 2019, and January 7th, 2020, Muffin used her laptop to access a personal, password-protected e-mail account on Yahoo's website, through which she communicated with her attorney and with 2 other IYH employees about her planned new business . She never saved her Yahoo ID or password on the company laptop. When Muffin left her employment with IYH after being terminated by the company’s president, she left behind her company office keys, the company owned laptop, the company issued cell phone, and her company photo identification card. In its opposition to Muffin’s motion for the return of her personal emails and a court order limiting IYH from using at trial any evidence derived from the content of her personal emails, plaintiff IYH relies on an Administrative and Office Staff Employee Handbook that they maintain contains the company's Electronic Communication policy (Policy). The proffered Policy states, in relevant part: The company reserves and will exercise the right to review, audit, intercept, access, and disclose all matters on the company's media systems and services at any time, with or without notice. .... E-mail and voice mail messages, internet use and communication and computer files are considered part of the company's business and client records. Such communications are not to be considered private or personal to any individual employee. The principal purpose of electronic mail (e-mail) is for company business communications. Occasional personal use is permitted; however, the system should not be used to solicit for outside business ventures, charitable organizations, or for any political or religious purpose, unless authorized by the Director of Human Resources. The Policy also specifically prohibits "[c]ertain uses of the e-mail system" including sending inappropriate sexual, discriminatory, or harassing messages, chain letters, "[m]essages in violation of government laws," or messages relating to job searches, business activities unrelated to InYourHome, or political activities. The Policy concludes with the following warning: "Abuse of the electronic communications system may result in disciplinary action up to and including separation of employment." The Rule governing Attorney Professional Conduct, Rule 4. 4, states in relevant part: RPC 4.4 Respect for Rights of Third Persons (a) In representing a client, a lawyer shall not use means that have no substantial purpose other than to embarrass, delay, or burden a third person, or use methods of obtaining evidence that violate the legal rights of such a person. (b) A lawyer who receives a document or electronic information and has reasonable cause to believe that the document or information was inadvertently sent shall not read the document or information or, if he or she has begun to do so, shall stop reading it. The lawyer shall (1) promptly notify the sender (2) return the document to the sender and, if in electronic form, delete it and take reasonable measures to assure that the information is inaccessible. A lawyer who receives a document or electronic information that contains privileged lawyerclient communications involving an adverse or third party and who has reasonable cause to believe that the document or information was wrongfully obtained shall not read the document or information or, if he or she has begun to do so, shall stop reading it. The lawyer shall (1) promptly notify the lawyer whose communications are contained in the document or information (2) return the document to the other lawyer and, if in electronic form, delete it and take reasonable measures to assure that the information is inaccessible. A lawyer who has been notified about a document containing lawyerclient communications has the obligation to preserve the document. Plaintiff InYourHome argues that its employees have no expectation of privacy in their use of company computers based on the company's Policy. In its briefs before this Court, the company also asserts that by accessing e-mails on a personal account through IYH's computer and server, Muffin either prevented any attorney-client privilege from attaching or waived the privilege by voluntarily subjecting her emails to company scrutiny. Finally, IYH maintains that its counsel did not violate RPC 4.4 because the e-mails were left behind on Muffin's company computer —not "inadvertently sent," as per the Rule —and the Firm acted in the good faith belief that any privilege had been waived. Defendant Muffin argues that she intended the e-mails with her lawyer to be confidential and that the Policy, even if it applied to her, failed to provide adequate warning that InYourHome would save on a hard drive, or monitor the contents of, e-mails sent from a personal password-protected Yahoo account. Muffin also maintains that the communications with her lawyer were privileged. When the Firm encountered the arguably protected e-mails, Muffin contends it should have immediately returned them. YOU ARE THE JUDGE. You must rule on defendant Muffin’s motion seeking (1) the return of all of her personal emails and (2) an order from the court limiting InYourHome’s ability to use any of the personal emails or their content as evidence at trial in their breach of contract lawsuit against Muffin. Please write your judicial opinion here: NO LONGER THAN 450 WORDS. CASE NUMBER ONE: Commonwealth v Brundidge, 590 A.2d 302 (Pa. Superior 1991) The issue presented is whether appellant's constitutional rights were violated when the police conducted a warrantless search of a jacket that was covered with plastic and hanging in a closet in a motel room one-half hour after check-out time. We conclude that, although the police entry and search of the motel room did not infringe on Fourth Amendment rights, the additional governmental intrusion into appellant's enclosed personal effects violated his constitutionally safeguarded expectations of privacy. Since we find that the trial court erred in refusing to suppress the evidence uncovered in this unreasonable *109 search, we reverse the judgment of sentence and remand for a new trial. I. In reviewing a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress, we consider the evidence of the prosecution, and so much of the evidence of the defense as, read in the context of the record as a whole, remains uncontradicted. Commonwealth v. Kean, 382 Pa.Super. 587, 590, 556 A.2d 374, 375 (1989); Commonwealth v. Lemanski, 365 Pa.Super. 332, 341-344, 529 A.2d 1085, 1089-90 (1987). Viewed in this light, the facts of this case are as follows. On August 25, 1987, appellant Robert L. Brundidge registered at the Greencastle Travelodge Motel for one night for a party of two: himself and his companion James Jackson. Appellant listed his home address as Haines City, Florida. Seana Rhodes, the front desk clerk, registered appellant in room 307. Pursuant to motel policy, Rhodes ordinarily informed motel guests that check-out time is twelve noon. There was also a sign displayed at the front desk informing the guests that check-out time is twelve noon. Several motel employees observed appellant and Jackson together on the evening of August 25. They left the motel at approximately twelve midnight, and did not return that night. The following day, at approximately twelve noon, Dorcas Sheffield, the executive housekeeper, telephoned room 307 pursuant to usual motel procedure, to determine whether the occupants wished to retain the room for a second night. When she received no answer, she entered the room to prepare it for the next guest. She found that the beds had not been slept in the previous night. On one of the beds she found a diagram of the motel floor plan labelled "front desk" with the handwritten name "James Q. Jackson" on it. On a table she found several one-inch square clear plastic bags. *110 Ms. Sheffield was alarmed by the diagram in particular because only two weeks before, a motel guest had perpetrated an armed robbery of the front desk. She went to the motel manager, Norman Reed, to report what she found in the room. State Trooper Gary Bopp, an undercover narcotics agent, was in the manager's office at the time investigating an unrelated matter. The manager and Trooper Bopp went with Ms. Sheffield to room 307. Trooper Bopp waited outside while Sheffield and Reed investigated. After Reed determined that no other persons were in the room, he asked Trooper Bopp to enter. At approximately 12:20 p.m., Trooper Bopp entered room 307. He observed in plain view the diagram and the small plastic bags, which he recognized as the kind of bags used for packaging small quantities of controlled substances. He proceeded to search the room. In the only closet, he found a jacket with a protective plastic bag over it. He searched the jacket, and in a pocket, he found a plastic bag inside another plastic bag filled with a white powder which was later determined to be 206.6 grams of pure cocaine. He removed a small sample of the powder for field testing and replaced the bag in the jacket pocket. Field testing erroneously indicated that the substance was methamphetamine. The trooper then telephoned the district attorney's office regarding the need for a search warrant, and telephoned police head-quarters for assistance. At 12:45 p.m., appellant and Jackson returned to the motel. Shortly thereafter, appellant registered for a second night. The two were kept under surveillance by state police while Trooper Bopp obtained a search warrant. At approximately 3:00 p.m., appellant and Jackson attempted to exit the motel. State police officers ordered them to halt. Appellant stopped, but Jackson attempted to flee and was shot by an officer. Trooper Bopp returned with search warrants for the motel room and appellant's and Jackson's cars. He seized the diagram, plastic bags, and bag of cocaine he previously found. Trooper Paul searched both appellant's and Jackson's cars. From Jackson's car, he seized an *111 empty "Skoal" chewing tobacco can containing a white residue and a razor blade, an unregistered gun, and three rounds of ammunition. He found no incriminating evidence in appellant's car. Appellant was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver[1] and conspiracy.[2] After his arrest, and after he was given Miranda warnings, appellant stated to police that the cocaine found in the jacket was not his, but Jackson's. At the time, police were under the misapprehension that the substance found in the jacket was methamphetamine. He also told police that he knew Jackson was selling drugs in Hagerstown, and that he was providing him with a place to stay and transportation to and from Hagerstown. Appellant and Jackson were tried separately. Appellant filed a pre-trial motion to suppress the cocaine, which was denied. He was subsequently found guilty of both charges and sentenced to a term of five to ten years imprisonment. Appellant filed a timely notice of appeal from judgment of sentence. Appellant raises two issues on appeal: (1) whether the admission of the cocaine into evidence violated his constitutional rights; and (2) whether there was sufficient evidence presented at trial to sustain his conviction of both charges. We conclude that appellant's suppression claim has merit and warrants the grant of a new trial.[3] *112 II. In support of his Fourth Amendment claim, appellant argues that he retained a constitutionally protected privacy interest in both the motel room and all its contents even though he concedes that check-out time had passed. In so arguing, appellant correctly focuses on what is clearly, in this context, the fundamental Fourth Amendment concern, i.e., the protection of legitimate privacy interests.[4] We disagree with appellant's overbroad and unsupported conclusion that, despite the expiration of his rental period in the motel room, his privacy interests in that room warrant continued constitutional protection. On the other hand, the *113 extinguishment of appellant's privacy interest in the motel room did not deprive him of all Fourth Amendment protection for the concealed contents of his personal effects within that room. Our conclusion is supported by settled constitutional principles and case law. The Fourth Amendment provides: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. Over years of evolving Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, a fundamental precept has emerged and that is, "the protection of the Fourth Amendment depends not upon a property right in the invaded place but whether the person who claims the protection of the Amendment has a legitimate expectation of privacy in the invaded place." Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 143, 99 S. Ct. 421, 430, 58 L. Ed. 2d 387 (1978). In order to invoke the protection of the Fourth Amendment, the expectation of privacy which allegedly has been invaded by government action must be "justifiable," "legitimate" and one which "society is prepared to recognize as `reasonable'." Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 360-361, 88 S. Ct. 507, 516, 19 L. Ed. 2d 576 (Harlan, J., concurring). The constitutional legitimacy of an expectation of privacy is not dependent on the subjective intent of the individual asserting the right. See, e.g., Hudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 525-526 n. 7, 104 S. Ct. 3194, 3199-3200 n. 7, 82 L. Ed. 2d 393 (1984). Indeed, as Mr. Justice Powell emphasized in his concurring opinion in Rakas, "it is not enough that an individual desired or anticipated that he would be free from governmental intrusion." Rather, he concluded, "[t]he ultimate question is whether one's claim to privacy from governmental intrusion is reasonable in li ...
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