• “Breaking the Seal of Confession: Examining Louisiana’s Clergyman Privilege in Light of Mayeaux v. Charlet”
  • June 6, 2017 | Author: Grant J. Guillot
  • Law Firm: Adams and Reese LLP - Baton Rouge Office
  • Certain communications with a clergyman are legally protected from further disclosure by a rule known as the clergyman, clergy, pastoral or priest-penitent privilege. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger said this privilege is “rooted in the imperative need for confidence and trust. The priest-penitent privilege recognizes the human need to disclose to a spiritual counselor, in total and absolute confidence, what are believed to be flawed acts or thoughts and to receive priestly consolation and guidance in return.” 1Furthermore, as explained by another court, “[s]ecrecy is of the essence of penance. The sinner will not confess, nor will the priest receive his confession, if the veil of secrecy is removed ... .”2Several Louisiana statutes recognize the importance of the clergyman privilege. For example, Louisiana Code of Evidence article 511(B) provides that “[a] person has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent another person from disclosing a confidential communication by the person to a clergyman in his professional character as spiritual adviser.”