If the states where it is privileged, and may not be admissible in court are fewer, which states are they?

Does it matter if information disclosed during priest-penitent communications had been known to the priest prior to the priest from another source? Or after?

1 Answer 1


The priest-penitent privilege exists in all 50 states in some form, as discussed in this article and this. In the US, in People v. Phillips (1813) this is a consequence of the Free Exercise clause (this is where the clause "sprang to life" in constitutional law. The statements excluded vary between states as discussed in this article, so Montana and Wyoming only recognize the privilege for "confessions", whereas New Jersey have a broader interpretation of the privilege. The privilege only exists w.r.t. communications between a clergy member and the accused, and does not apply to things that a clergy member may know about a person (but it's a separate question whether heresay is admissible, anyhow).

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