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Breaking Bad and the professional secret of the lawyer

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One of the most famous series in the history of television is, without a doubt, Breaking Bad. Released in January 2008 by Sony Pictures Television, it tells the adventures of a chemistry teacher, Walter Whitesince then, pressured by his economic problems and his life prospects after a terminal cancer diagnosis, he decides to embark on a criminal career cooking methamphetamine with a former student and a minor thug, Jesse Pinkmanto ensure the future of his family.

The lawyer is one of the main secondary actors who will have his own turn, Better Call Saul Saul Goodmann. Saul presents himself as a con man, eventually turned lawyer who will take part as an adviser and accomplice to the couple. He is a strange secondary actor in a series whose great talent is to lead each of the characters into impossible situations.

During Saul’s relationship with Walter and Jesse, they discover that the former has discovered the nature of his criminal activities and decide to liquidate him so as not to implicate the DEA.

Well, in the eighth episode of its second season, Saul gives, in a memorable scene, his particular lesson on what confidentiality of conversations means in the lawyer-client relationship (attorney-client privilege in its Anglo-Saxon terminology).

So, hooded so as not to be discovered, the main characters capture Sol and take him to the desert where they force him to dig a ditch where he will presumably be buried. A recurring scene in all self-respecting movies with a mafia plot. During a funny conversation, Saul recognizes Walter behind his ski mask and, as a last intellectual resource to save his life, asks him to put a dollar bill in his pocket. It is a clear surprise for the dominant couple, he explains that from that precise moment, his status as a lawyer prevents him from disclosing any type of conversation or information he has that is related to the criminal activities of his. minute on, customers. With this he manages to save his life and continue to participate in the affairs of the strange couple of criminals.

With the huge influence this type of series has in our lives right now by creating a collective imagination, this grotesque approach to the role of the lawyer in question, confidentiality in the relationship with his client and the professional confidentiality it is duty upon him. the one that settles in the minds of much of our society.

Organic Law of Judges

In our legal system, Article 542.3 of the Organic Law of Judges provides that “lawyers must keep confidential all facts or news they learn by any means of their professional performance, and they cannot be forced to testify to be brought under the same» and the Criminal Code, in its article 199, punishes as a crime the professional who fails to fulfill the obligation of confidentiality or confidentiality in relation to the intentions of another person.

In this sense, the European Court of Human Rights reiterated that “the right to remain silent and the privilege against self-incrimination are usually recognized at the heart of the concept of a fair trial guaranteed in art. 6.1 of the Agreement. The right not to incriminate presupposes, in particular, that the authorities succeed in proving their case without resorting to evidence obtained through coercive means or pressure against the will of the accused person”.

This right of every accused person not to incriminate himself, which is included as a fundamental right in article 24.2 of our Constitution, means that it is the duty of the lawyer, the custodian of that information to express an adequate defense, to keep it confidential and not. reveal it. If this were not the case, this right of your client would be void.

This confidentiality obligation therefore affects the pre-trial information required by the lawyer to assess his client’s position and present an adequate defense and if it is not kept confidential it would mean, de facto, a breach of the right said “without testifying against yourself you no longer accept guilt.”

At a time when television series contribute so much to the establishment of socially accepted archetypes and their messages, often clichés, take root in the public, there is an increasing pressure that even reaches our legislators (consumers have acknowledged this type cinematographic product) , to gradually limit the scope of professional secrecy and, ultimately, every citizen’s fundamental right to protection. There is no doubt that these currents, which are not exclusive to our country, undermine the foundations and principles of the entire rule of law.

In the field of trial filmsAs in almost everything, it is also convenient to resort to the classics. To find out the true scope of the role of lawyers in the defense of their clients; When facing lawyers like Saul Goodman, why not go for a master’s degree in Sir Wilfrid Roberts in prosecution witnessethics of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird or with intelligence Diane Lockhart in The Good fight.

Manuel Mata He is Dean of the Castellón Bar Association.

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