Privileged Communications


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What is considered "Privileged Communication?" Is everything I say to anyone protected under the clergy privilege?

Generally, privileged communications exist between a member of a profession and a client only during the course of the professional consultation or work product.

There are many sites that discuss the general rule of clergy confidentiality. One such site is listed below.

Liberty Counsel

Each state defines what is and is not considered privileged communication under that state's Rules of Evidence. No amount of general discussion can substitute for the actual law and/or rules published by your own state.

To find the rule in your own state do a search on Google for "[your state] Rules of Evidence." A sample of what you would find is below:

Texas Privileged Communication to Clergy

New Hampshire Religous Privilege

You may be able to find your states Rules of Evidence at Expert Pages or Cornell Law Library

What about communicating with prison inmates?

Visits to inmates present a special situation in that certain liberties have been forfeited by the inmates upon incarceration. However, generally clergy visits are still protected. Each facility has special rules for clergy visits. Sometimes you must be on a special approved list before you visit is considered an authorized clergy visit. Always visit the facility in advance and become fully authorized to visit inmates in your capacity as clergy. Otherwise, your visits may be subject to being recorded and not considered privileged.

Mandatory Reporting

There are always exceptions to the rules, and privileged communications is no exception (pardon the pun.) At least 20 states have adopted the law that requires many professions to report any instances of child abuse that may come into their knowledge. While this is just one example where the privilege does not extend your state may have additional exceptions. The only way you will know for sure is to research your own state's laws or seek the advice of an attorney in your state.

Note: As always this is not intended to be legal advice. This article is worth exactly what you paid for it. You should obtain all legal advice from an attorney in your jurisdiction.

Edited by mdtaylor
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