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Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Waiver of the Privilege

§ 3.08.05
Key point 3-08.05. In most states a counselee can waive the clergy-penitent privilege by disclosing the privileged communication to someone other than the minister. In some states the minister also may waive the privilege.

The clergy-penitent privilege can be "waived" if a minister or counselee voluntarily discloses a privileged communication to another person. If the privilege is waived it no longer protects communications against compelled disclosure in a court of law or judicial proceeding. To illustrate, one court ruled that a counselee waived any privilege when he disclosed to the police the substance of confidential communications he had made to his minister.[133] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Superior Court, 764 P.2d 759 (Ariz. App. 1988). There is some variation among the states regarding a waiver of the privilege. One court observed that the "states are split on ...

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