Information about calls to waive attorney-client privilege

March 26, 2021

NOTE: This letter refers to events that may trigger traumatic memories for members of our community. Resources and assistance are available through the MSU Center for Survivors, MSU Safe Place, MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services and the MSU Employee Assistance Program. Support is also available through the Michigan Sexual Assault Hotline.

Dear Spartans,

Today, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, the Michigan State University Office of the General Counsel responded to Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Feb. 24 letter renewing her request that the university take the action of waiving attorney-client privilege regarding specific documents related to Larry Nassar. In our response, we have notified the Attorney General that the Board will not be taking this action and, therefore, will continue to maintain attorney-client privilege.

We have listened to many viewpoints on this topic over the past three years and have heard the feedback many of you have provided to us. We realize some members of the MSU community have disagreed with maintaining attorney-client privilege, so we wanted to share this information directly with you.

The attorney-client privilege is a fundamental legal right that applies to all individuals and institutions in the United States. The scope of the privilege is narrow. The attorney-client privilege only applies to confidential communications by a client to its attorney that are made for the purpose of obtaining legal advice. It does not protect against the discovery of facts. Facts are not privileged.

As you know, MSU has been the subject of many governmental inquiries and investigations related to relationship violence and sexual misconduct. We have provided those agencies and the Department of Attorney General the requested facts. Further, in 2019, as part of a legal proceeding, Judge Richard Ball reviewed the documents in question and ruled that the university appropriately maintained attorney-client privilege.

MSU has made significant changes in its RVSM-related processes, policies and systems aimed at preventing sexual misconduct, harassment and assault. There is more work to be done. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we are committed to continuing to address the changes needed for a safer and more respectful campus.


Dianne Byrum, Chair
MSU Board of Trustees