Tue, May. 20, 2008

Inviolability of Law Offices

.   Searches of, and seizures in, law offices require enhanced constitutional scrutiny, the German Constitutional Supreme Court in Karlsruhe decided. In its press release of May 20, 2008, the court emphasizes the general inviolability of the abode and the particular sanctity of the premises of attorneys.

An attorney had filed an objection succinctly questioning the impartiality of a judge. The judge filed a criminal complaint. The prosecution searched the office and home of the attorney and reviewed and seized files. In the matter 2 BvR 1801/06, the highest German court ruled for the attorney.

The constitutional court stressed the proportionality requirement for searches and seizures. In its opinion, the lower courts in Osnabrück had not properly balanced the alleged offense and the constitutional protections.

The alleged defamation of a judge does not justify an infringement of constitutional rights, especially where the prosecution could have used means that would not affect the heightened protection necessary for the legal profession, the court held.

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