Google seeks to avoid DOJ sanctions over ‘attorney-client privilege’ emails

Alphabet’s Google urged a decide listening to a US antitrust case towards it to reject the Justice Department’s request that it’s sanctioned, saying it had not abused attorney-client privilege.

The division had requested Judge Amit Mehta to sanction Google, saying the corporate’s “Communicate with Care” program was typically a “game” to defend communications that didn’t genuinely fall beneath attorney-client privilege. 

In a submitting dated Thursday, Google mentioned that “allegations of sanctionable misconduct are baseless” and a misreading of a small variety of slides used to prepare workers.

Google additionally mentioned it was conferring with the federal government on which emails which can be indicated as doubtlessly falling beneath attorney-client privilege genuinely do. It mentioned it had given the federal government among the affected paperwork.

“Plaintiffs come nowhere close to proving the bad-faith misconduct that is required to strip a party of its privilege protections,” Google mentioned in its submitting.

“Google has explicitly and repeatedly instructed its employees to shield important business communications from discovery by using false requests for legal advice,” attorneys for the Justice Department wrote in a submitting.

“Specifically, Google teaches its employees to add an attorney, a privilege label, and a generic ‘request’ for counsel’s advice to any sensitive business communications the employees or Google might wish to shield from discovery.” 

In one such instance from 2018, CEO Sundar Pichai emailed YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki to talk about an upcoming press story. 

Justice Department building.
Justice Department filed the antitrust lawsuit towards Google in 2020.
Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images
Justice Department building.
“Google has explicitly and repeatedly instructed its employees to shield important business communications from discovery by using false requests for legal advice,” the division mentioned in a submitting.
Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

“Attorney Client Privileged, Confidential,” Pichai wrote, copying Google’s then-general counsel Kent Walker. “Kent pls advise.” 

Yet Walker apparently by no means replied to the thread, which the Justice Department mentioned was “directed to a non-attorney” about “a non-legal press issue.”

The e-mail was initially withheld by Google in an ongoing antitrust case and was solely produced after the Justice Department challenged it, the division mentioned. 

The Justice Department filed the lawsuit towards Google in 2020, accusing it of violating antitrust legislation in its dealing with of its search enterprise. Trial was set for September 2023.

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