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What is the legal definition of "confidential communications" in reference to information received by Clergy?

Auburn, ME |

The Maine statute regarding who is a mandated reported states, " A clergy member acquiring the information as a result of clerical professional work except for information received during confidential communications;" Title 22 Sec.4011-A 1.A (27) Does this mean that ANY communication is considered confidential?

Attorney Answers 1

Posted

As a general rule, only "confidential" communications are protected until and unless waived, so that if others are around at the time the communications are made there may have been no reasonable expectation of confidentiality. Similarly, if not made in the course of a professional consultation, such as discussing the weather with the pastor at the church barbecue, it is unlikely to be a protected communication. If you are genuinely concerned that you have suffered some damage as a result of a breach of this duty, you should promptly consult an experienced attorney convenient to yourself.
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Disclaimer: California attorney Robert Miller has practiced for over 45 years and restricts his practice to real estate and probate matters in the Central District of Los Angeles. Any opinion expressed is for general informational purposes only, no attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this answer, and no action or inaction should be contemplated without first employing and consulting with a competent attorney convenient to the questioner.

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3 comments

Robert Miller

Robert Miller

Posted

I cannot and will not give specific advice on an online forum and direct you to any competent and experienced attorney in your locale. As I indicated previously, practicality is the order of the day. Disciplinary committees cannot make things appear, and perhaps a warmer approach might be useful. Perhaps offer the attorney or his family that you or someone you know would be happy to come over and help go through the garage or wherever he keeps stuff to try and locate the files, or perhaps pay for them to hire someone to do it. Maybe a basket of fruit at the same time. Or not. ************************************************************************************** Disclaimer: California attorney Robert Miller has practiced for over 45 years and restricts his practice to real estate and probate matters in the Central District of Los Angeles. Any opinion expressed is for general informational purposes only, no attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this answer, and no action or inaction should be contemplated without first employing and consulting with a competent attorney convenient to the questioner.

Robert Miller

Robert Miller

Posted

Oops -- previous comment directed to another questioner. Please disregard.

Robert Miller

Robert Miller

Posted

Because of the preceding misdirected response, I will try to answer your question as to the meaning of a "confidential communication." Frankly, law books are written on the subject and there is no universal definition, except is must be a communication, and it must have been intended only for the eyes or ears of the respective client/attorney, patient/physician, penitent/cleric, etc., in the course of a professional employment or engagement between them. A casual "I feel lousy" to an acquaintance who happens to be a doctor while riding on the subway, would be unlikely to qualify. Beyond that you will need to employ local counsel, specify the exact communication and the circumstances, be prepared to discuss any damages, and proceed accordingly. I cannot and will not give specific advice on an online forum and direct you to any competent and experienced attorney in your locale. As I indicated previously, practicality is the order of the day. Disciplinary committees cannot make things appear, and perhaps a warmer approach might be useful. Perhaps offer the attorney or his family that you or someone you know would be happy to come over and help go through the garage or wherever he keeps stuff to try and locate the files, or perhaps pay for them to hire someone to do it. Maybe a basket of fruit at the same time. Or not. ************************************************************************************** Disclaimer: California attorney Robert Miller has practiced for over 45 years and restricts his practice to real estate and probate matters in the Central District of Los Angeles. Any opinion expressed is for general informational purposes only, no attorney-client relationship is intended or created by this answer, and no action or inaction should be contemplated without first employing and consulting with a competent attorney convenient to the questioner.