Judge protects message between Peterson, attorney

March 13, 2003 

A judge has ruled that investigators are not allowed to see the contents of an envelope that police found during a recent search of Scott Peterson's home, court records show.

Police found the envelope addressed to Modesto attorney Kirk McAllister while serving a search warrant Feb. 18 at Peterson's Covena Avenue home.

That warrant also covered a Dodge pickup and a storage unit.

It was unclear from court documents if the envelope was the same one that police identified in a separate search warrant.

The McAllister envelope held confidential communication between client and attorney, Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Wray Ladine ruled during a Feb. 26 hearing.

The hearing was open to the public and listed on the court calendar. The listing referred to a search warrant but did not include a reference to Scott or Laci Peterson.

Court records show that at least three items were in the envelope.

After police found the envelope, they asked the court to appoint a special master to examine its contents, according to a court document.

State law requires a special master when the gathering of evidence might violate four legally protected relationships: between an individual and his or her lawyer, psychologist or psychiatrist, priest and doctor.

In other developments, an April 2 hearing has been set for The Bee's request to unseal eight search warrants in the investigation. The petition contends that the warrants were not sealed in accordance with state law.

Bee staff writer John Coté can be reached at 578-2394 or jcote@modbee.com.

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