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Md. Seeks to Question Tripp's Ex-Lawyer

Associated Press
Saturday, January 30, 1999; Page B05

Maryland prosecutors have asked a judge to force one of Linda Tripp's former lawyers to answer questions about tapes his ex-client made of conversations with former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky.

James A. Moody, Tripp's former attorney, said the "motion to compel" was "totally outrageous."

"I will oppose the motion on the grounds of privilege," he said. "A prosecutor can't turn a lawyer into a tool to get his client. Otherwise, nobody would ever share secrets and confidences with their lawyers."

Moody said State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli filed the motion this week. A Howard County judge is scheduled to hear arguments Feb. 25.

"If they had a case against Tripp, they wouldn't bother with me," Moody said.

Moody invoked attorney-client privilege and his Fifth Amendment rights in refusing to answer questions about the tapes' existence and whereabouts and whether he had played them for anyone when he was subpoenaed to appear before a Howard County grand jury on Dec. 10.

The grand jury is investigating whether Tripp broke Maryland's wiretap law, which makes it illegal to audiotape a conversation without the person's consent.

The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Ignorance of the law is a valid defense.

Montanarelli is trying to prove that Tripp knew that taping Lewinsky without her knowledge was illegal when she began doing it. When reached yesterday, he would not discuss his plans for the case but said, "We are not going to be doing anything in the immediate future."

Moody said he had forwarded the motion to Tripp's current attorney, Joseph Murtha. Murtha said yesterday that he objected to Montanarelli's motion.

"We don't believe that Jim Moody should be required or compelled to testify before the grand jury," he said.

© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press

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