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Confidential and Privileged Communications - Part 2

A Massachusetts court ruled that the clergy-penitent privilege did not apply to a statement made by a murder suspect to the director of a Christian rehabilitation center.

Key point 3-07.3. In order for the clergy-penitent privilege to apply there must be a communication that is made to a minister.
The Clergy-Penitent Privilege

* A Massachusetts court ruled that the clergy-penitent privilege did not apply to a statement made by a murder suspect to the director of a Christian rehabilitation center for drug addicts and alcoholics. The suspect made incriminating statements to the director, and the director later testified regarding these statements at the suspect's murder trial. The suspect was convicted of murder, and appealed his conviction on several grounds. One of his arguments was that the statements he made to the director of the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center were privileged and therefore should never have been introduced into evidence. A state appeals court disagreed. It noted that the Massachusetts clergy privilege statute applies to ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • May 1, 2003

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