UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
RONALD CRAIG HORNBACK,
Criminal Action No. 3: 10-13-DCR
Civil Action No. 3: 13-7296-DCR-REW
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On April 11, 2011, Defendant Ronald Hornback entered a guilty plea to a one-count
Indictment, charging him a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2). [See Record Nos. 69, 87]
Hornback was sentenced on July 26, 2011, to a term of incarceration of 121 months, followed
by a life term of supervised release. [Record No. 79] Hornback has filed a motion to vacate, set
aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [Record No. 103] In relevant part,
he claims that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in the course of the criminal action.
The United States contends that Hornback has waived his attorney-client privilege with
respect to the specific matters raised in his habeas motion. [Record No. 106] The government
contends that, to effectively address these matters, it should be allowed to contact Hornback’s
former counsel. It concedes, however, that the information it may solicit should be limited to
the issues raised in the defendant’s § 2255 motion alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. In
support, the United States cites a number of cases in which courts have held that a habeas
petitioner claiming ineffective assistance of counsel impliedly waives his or her attorney-client
privilege with respect to communications with the attorney that are necessary to disprove the
claim. See United States v. Pinson, 584 F.3d 972, 977 (10th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 130 S.Ct.
1548 (2010); In re Lott, 424 F.3d 446, 453 (6th Cir. 2005); Bittaker v. Woodford, 331 F.3d 715,
716 (9th Cir. 2003) (en banc); Johnson v. Alabama, 256 F.3d 1156, 1178 (11th Cir. 2001); Tasby
v. United States, 504 F.2d 332, 336 (8th Cir. 1974); and Laughner v. United States, 373 F.2d
326, 327 (5th Cir. 1967).
As the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recognized in Lott, supra at
453, the attorney-client privilege may be waived, either expressly or implication, in several ways.
And waiver may occur in a habeas case where the defendant places at issue the subject matter
of a privileged communication which forces the government to address the privileged matter to
defeat a claim of ineffectiveness. Here, waiver has occurred as a result of Hornback’s assertion
that his former attorney provided ineffective assistance in connection with his criminal action.
Thus, it will be necessary for the United States to obtain information from Hornback’s former
attorney to effectively address the defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance. Accordingly, it
ORDERED that the United States’ Motion for Order Finding Waiver of Attorney-Client
Privilege [Record No. 106] is GRANTED. The Court finds that, by alleging ineffective
assistance of counsel, Defendant Ronald Craig Hornback has waived his attorney-client privilege
with respect to issues raised in his § 2255 motion. The United States may contact Hornback’s
former attorney strictly for the purpose of obtaining only that information which is necessary to
respond to Hornback’s ineffective assistance of counsel claims.
This 20 day of September, 2013.