Confidential Clergy Communications Privilege Statutes: Louisiana

Confidential Clergy Communications Statutes

Louisiana Confidential Clergy Communications Privilege Statute


Louisiana Code of Evidence.

Chapter 5. Testimonial Privileges.

Article 511. Communications to clergymen.A. Definitions. As used in this Article:

(1) A “clergyman” is a minister, priest, rabbi, Christian Science practitioner, or other similar functionary of a religious organization, or an individual reasonably believed so to be by the person consulting him.

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

  1. General rule of privilege. 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.
  2. Who may claim the privilege. The privilege may be claimed by the person or by his legal representative. The clergyman is presumed to have authority to claim the privilege on behalf of the person or deceased person.

TITLE 13. Courts and Judicial Procedure.

Chapter 17. Witnesses and Evidence.

Part II. Evidence in General.

  • 3734.2. Privileged communications between persons and religious authorities relating to matrimonial rights or status.A. As used in this Section, the following terms shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

(1) “Marital status or rights” shall mean the determination by any recognized religious authority, either in the first instance or on appeal or review of prior determination by other religious authorities, under the laws, doctrine, tenets, or beliefs of a religion, church, or association or convention of churches concerning:

(a) Whether any person or persons subject thereto has entered into a marriage or marriages considered to be valid thereunder,

(b) Whether they may be entitled to have same declared invalid or null by reason thereof,

(c) Whether they are free to contract a valid marriage thereunder, or

(d) Whether they may be subject to censure, excommunication, or denial of privileges thereunder or with regard to any other matter directly or indirectly relating to the privileges, obligations, or status of such persons as a result of their actions, intentions, or status in relation thereto.

(2) “Person” shall mean any natural person who has applied to any recognized religious authority for a declaration or decision relative to his or any other person’s status or rights under the laws, doctrine, tenets, or beliefs of any religion, church, or convention or association of churches, as well as any other person who shall submit or have in their knowledge or possession any facts or evidence or testimony submitted to the religious authority relative thereto, or any other participants in any proceedings conducted by the religious authority, including, but not limited to, judges, advocates, clerks, stenographers, reporters, or witnesses.

(3) “Privileged communications” shall mean the acquiring, recording, or transmittal of any information, by any person in any manner whatsoever, concerning any facts, opinions, or statements made by any person to any recognized religious authority, by way of testimony, affidavit, deposition, or other writing, or by any other documentary evidence, for the purpose of obtaining a declaration or decision from the religious authority relative to any person’s marital status or rights under the law, doctrine, tenets, or beliefs of a religion, church, or convention or association of churches, including, but not limited to, any and all records, documentary evidence, transcripts of testimony, opinions or decisions, correspondence, or memoranda relating thereto.

(4) “Recognized religious authority” shall mean any person or group of persons comprising a tribunal, board, or other type of deliberative body who, under the established laws, doctrine, tenets, or beliefs of that religious body or sect, or under the rules or discipline of that church or association or convention of churches, is vested with the authority to determine the rights and status of persons subject thereto in matters relating to the validity or nullity of the marriage of persons subject to said laws, doctrine, tenets, or beliefs.

  1. No person shall be required to disclose, by way of testimony or otherwise, or to produce, under subpoena, any privileged communication made to any recognized religious authority in connection with any proceeding or review conducted by said authority relating to the determination or declaration of rights or status of any person regarding any privileged communication:

(1) In connection with any civil or criminal case or proceeding;

(2) Before any state or local administrative department, agency, board, or commission;

(3) To any legislative committee, or

(4) By way of deposition or other discovery procedure.