Confidential Clergy Communications Privilege Statutes: Alabama

Confidential Clergy Communications Statutes

Alabama Confidential Clergy Communications Privilege Statute

CODE OF ALABAMA

TITLE 12: Courts.

Chapter 21: Evidence and Witnesses.

  • 12-21-166. Confidentiality of communications with clergymen.(a) As used in this section, unless a contrary meaning is clearly intended from the context in which the term appears, the following terms have the respective meanings hereinafter set forth and indicated:

(1) CLERGYMAN. Any duly ordained, licensed or commissioned minister, pastor, priest, rabbi or practitioner of any bona fide established church or religious organization and shall include and be limited to any person who regularly, as a vocation, devotes a substantial portion of his time and abilities to the service of his respective church or religious organization.

(2) LEGAL OR QUASI-LEGAL PROCEEDINGS. Any proceeding, civil or criminal, in any court, whether a court of record, a grand jury investigation, a coroner’s inquest and any proceeding or hearing before any public officer or administrative agency of the state or any political subdivision thereof.

(b) If any person shall communicate with a clergyman in his professional capacity and in a confidential manner (1) to make a confession, (2) to seek spiritual counsel or comfort, or (3) to enlist help or advice in connection with a marital problem, either such person or the clergyman shall have the privilege, in any legal or quasi-legal proceeding, to refuse to disclose and to prevent the other from disclosing anything said by either party during such communication.

ALABAMA RULES OF EVIDENCE

Article V. Privileges.

Rule 505. Communications to clergymen. (a) Definitions. As used in this rule:

(1) A “clergyman” is any duly ordained, licensed, or commissioned minister, pastor, priest, rabbi, or practitioner of any bona fide established church or religious organization; the term “clergyman” includes, and is limited to, any person who regularly, as a vocation, devotes a substantial portion of his or her time and abilities to the service of his or her church or religious organization.

(2) A communication is “confidential” if it is made privately and is not intended for further disclosure except to other persons present in furtherance of the purpose of the communication.

(b) General rule of privilege. If any person shall communicate with a clergyman in the clergyman’s professional capacity and in a confidential manner, then that person or the clergyman shall have a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent another from disclosing, that confidential communication.

(c) Who may claim the privilege. The privilege may be claimed by the communicating person, by that person’s guardian or conservator, or by that person’s personal representative if that person has died, or by the clergyman.