Friday :: Jul 8, 2005

A question for lawyers

by eriposte

I wote about the issue of journalist source confidentiality here and here. It was mostly challenging claims that Miller and Cooper should not have been forced to testify.

Now, others like Billmon, Armando at Daily Kos, TocqueDeville at Daily Kos and Matt Welch at Reason Online have weighed in. Only TocqueDeville takes the position that what happened with Miller is OK.

I don't want to spend a lot of time right now providing detailed responses here, but I do have a simple question that maybe lawyers here can answer (and I would very much appreciate your taking some time to respond in the comments). The question is based on Matt Welch's statement:

Therapists, lawyers, priests, and spouses all have at least some protection against having their confidential conversations made into fodder for rampaging prosecutors. If it were up to me, that shield would be extended to the full population, at least until the grand jury system was reigned back in.
So, the question is this: Do therapists, lawyers, priests and spouses have unconditional 100% protection under the law? If not, under what conditions is their right to patient/client/parishioner/spouse confidentiality revokable under U.S. law?

Let me say that I am not trying to find loopholes. I am trying to understand how absolute claims to confidentiality are under current law.

[P.S. Ignore the Patriot Act for now; my question is based on established constitutional law before the Patriot Act was passed. For example, a diaryist My Philosophy at Daily Kos is examining Contract Law and Judy Miller].

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