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Clergy-Penitent Privilege Not Applicable to a Conversation with a Church Elder

Key point 3-07.2. In order for the clergy-penitent privilege to apply there must be a communication that is made in confidence. This generally means that there are no other persons present besides the minister and counselee who can overhear the communication, and that there is an expectation that the conversation will be kept secret.
Key point 3-07.4. In order for the clergy-penitent privilege to apply there must be a communication that is made to a minister acting in a professional capacity as a spiritual adviser.

A federal court in California ruled that the clergy-penitent privilege did not apply to a criminal defendant’s conversation with a church elder since the presence of a second elder in the room negated the essential requirement of confidentiality and the purpose of the conversation was more in the nature of marital than spiritual counseling.

A woman contacted her local police ...

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  • March 1, 2019

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