Catherine Wilder on Hulu’s Runaways is a case study in attorney ethics. She met her future husband Geoffrey while representing him in jail. She is the mother of Alex Wilder, the teenager who is arguably the glue that holds the teenage “Runaways” together as a team.
Catherine and Geoffrey are members of Pride, a civic group connected to the cult/church Givborim, which conducted ritualistic human sacrifices to prolong the life of Jonah, a supernatural villain. Making matters worse, these sacrifices were done at the Wilder property.
Alex Wilder expressed concern over his mother’s impressive skill as an attorney. However, what are the legal ethical issues with Catherine Wilder participating in human sacrifices as part of a quasi-religious ceremony wearing red robes?
Representation of Geoffrey Wilder while Incarcerated
Catherine met her future husband Geoffrey while he was awaiting trial for murder. After a discussion with Jonah, Geoffrey asked a friend Darius Davis to admit to the murder for which Geoffrey was arrested.
While it was clear Geoffrey was attracted to Catherine, there was no evidence to suggest they had a sexual relationship while Catherine represented Geoffrey. Such representation could have been improper, if it caused Catherine to perform legal services incompetently. Cal. Rules of Prof’l Conduct, Rule 3-120(B)(3). This rule does not apply to spouses where the relationship predates representation. Rule 3-120(C).
The problem for Catherine is she willingly assisted in a fraud upon the Court in offering Darius Davis as the shooter for Geoffrey’s crime. This is the very essence of an act of “moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption,” which would be cause for disbarment or suspension. Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 6106.
Human Sacrifices are Not Protected by the Attorney-Client Privilege
Catherine Wilder has no way to argue the sacrifices committed on her property are in any way protected by the attorney-client privilege. As a preliminary matter, the California attorney-client privilege states that a client has the right to refuse from disclosing any confidential communications with their attorney. Cal. Evid. Code § 954. This would require Catherine to represent every member of Pride individually, which has significant legal issues as to potential conflicts between Pride members, such as those who had knowledge of another member’s child being killed. Moreover, the attorney-client privilege does not apply if a lawyer’s services were sought to enable or aid anyone to commit a crime. Cal Evid Code § 956(a). As the members of Pride were killing teenagers, there is no way for Catherine to provide legal advice on how to murder children.
Catherine could not argue Pride had any religious freedom to perform the “energy transference” of runaway teenagers in some quasi-religious ceremony for Givborimism. As has been held in case law:
The devotee of a religious cult that enjoins polygamy or human sacrifice as a duty is not thereby relieved from responsibility before the law. In such cases the belief, however false according to our own standards, is not the product of disease. Cases will doubtless arise where criminals will take shelter behind a professed belief that their crime was ordained by God, just as this defendant attempted to shelter himself behind that belief. We can safely leave such fabrications to the common sense of juries.
People v. Schmidt, 216 N.Y. 324, 339-40, 110 N.E. 945, 949-50 (1915), citing Guiteau’s Case, 10 Fed. Rep. 161, 175, 177; Parsons v. State, 81 Ala. 577 at 594; Reynolds v. U. S., 98 U.S. 145; People ex rel. Hegeman v. Corrigan, 195 N. Y. 1, 13.
Killing runaway teenagers is murder. Lawyers are supposed to uphold and defend the Constitutions of the United States and their state, not be willing participants in the deaths of children. The actions of the members of Pride could not hide behind the attorney-client privilege. Catherine should be disbarred for the [fictional] deaths and tried for conspiracy to commit murder.