Thursday, May 17, 2012

Priest Penitent Privilege challenged

The Law Offices of Raymond A. Cassar, PLC won a hard fought victory in the case of State of Michigan v Samuel Bragg (Michigan Court of Appeals). In a recent decision, the Court of Appeals upheld the Priest-Penitent Privilege preventing the use of testimony by a pastor against a parishioner. Many articles on this case have focused on the allegations of sex crimes. Sometimes the public is so blinded by the nature of the charge, they lose sight of what this case is all about. The real issue in this case is whether a Pastor or any other member of the Clergy can reveal confidential communications made to him while acting as a Pastor.

The Priest/Penitent Privilege has been in existence for over 1500 years. The goal behind the privilege is to allow people to unburden their souls and seek spiritual guidance. This has always been a socially desirable goal and is supported by all forms of religions. The recent challenge to this privilege should send shock waves to all religions and all people. Our society needs to be able to go to their respective clergy and discuss things that are troublesome without worry that their private disclosure may become public and worse possibly used against them in court.

If you take away that trust, few people will seek spiritual guidance. The issue in this case is whether the privilege should be breached. It only takes a small leak to breach a huge dam. This fight will continue.

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