Jump directly to the Content

Letters to Ministers and the Clergy-Penitent Privilege

When is written communication protected?

Key point: In some cases, a letter written to a minister may be covered by the "clergy-penitent privilege" and accordingly be immune from involuntary disclosure in a court of law. However, this may not be the case if the letter is left open in plain view in the author's home, since under these circumstances the communication may not be "confidential".

• A New Jersey court ruled that a letter written by a murderer to his pastor, and left in plain view in his home after he killed 5 members of his family, was not protected from disclosure in court by the clergy-penitent privilege since it was not considered "confidential". The facts of this case are tragic. One morning after his three children had gone to school, a man (the "defendant") shot and killed his wife while she was sitting at the breakfast table. He then proceeded to the third floor of his home where his mother lived and ...

Join now to access this member-only content

Become a Member

Already a member? for full access.

Related Topics:
Posted:
  • September 1, 1994

Related ResourcesVisit Store

Using Social Media Safely
Using Social Media Safely
Policies to keep your church staff and members safe when using social media.
12 Law & Tax Guidelines for New Ministers
12 Law & Tax Guidelines for New Ministers
Essential knowledge to ensure legal and financial clarity and integrity in ministry.