Friday, May 3, 2013

Kelley v. Shinseki

Kelley v. Shinseki, 26 Vet.App. 183 (2013)
In November 2012, VA rescinded its policy that honored exclusive-contact requests from attorney-represented veterans. Prior to this, when a veteran was represented by an attorney, VA would honor requests from the attorney that VA contact the attorney exclusively regarding the veteran’s claim. In this case, the veteran contacted the regional office by email to obtain the status of his claim, and a VA employee called the veteran back and provided information. The veteran’s attorney reminded VA about the exclusive-contact request, and was told that VA was no longer honoring these requests. The attorney petitioned the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), arguing that VA’s contact with the attorney-represented veteran prohibited the veteran from benefiting from the advice of counsel and interfered with the attorney-client relationship. The Court denied the petition, finding that the attorney did not show that the veteran’s contact with the RO interfered with the attorney-client relationship. The Court expressed its concern with VA’s new policy, but found that it did not, in this case, prevent the veteran from obtaining advice from his attorney or otherwise interfere with the attorney-client relationship. 

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