SHOWDOWN in the New Hampshire Supreme Court today!!! (JW Abuse Suit)
Another state law (RSA 516:35 and court rule 505) holds that confessional communications between a person and a priest, ligious leader are confidential, however.
One of the lawyers for the Jehovah?s Witnesses, Donald Gardner of Manchester, said Groff was right to rule that the church elders are covered by the religious privilege rule. That confidentiality barred the elders from reporting any allegations or even admissions of abuse, Groff ruled. If that statement were true then they should not convene a tribunal to df you after you confess to any infraction either
Hamilton disputes that church elders are covered by the religious privilege, because they are not trained as clergy. Even if so, she argued, the obligation to report child abuse should trump religious confidentiality, because it?s more important to protect children. Amen
Gardner argued the law requiring people to report child abuse doesn?t even apply to the case. Failure to report child abuse is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail under state law, but the law doesn?t give people the right to sue for alleged violations, he said. What a prick
Gardner argued that the religious privilege is broad and absolute, and the courts and state ought not be invited to meddle in matters of individual faith and conscience.
?When you start cutting away at the margins of religious privilege,? and limiting what sort of things it covers, Gardner said, ?you run a grave risk.? Man I hate this guy
We will soon get to hear the full session of the oral arguments for ourselves, since the New Hampshire Supreme Court posts audio of the sessions some weeks later (perhaps early in November for this case). I will post a link to the audio file as soon as it is available. (mp3 format).
The NHSC also doesn't take long (compared to other high-level courts) to decide, and looking at the general trend of time between argument and decision, I predict a decision in December or January.
Bear in mind that even if (BIG if) the Berry girls win, they haven't won the war yet, just the battle; it simply means their lawsuit will go back to the trial court for further pre-trial proceedings and, eventually, a trial that they may or may not win. OTOH, if the WTS wins, that's it; the suit remains permanently dismissed and the only further appeal is to the U.S. Supreme Court (chances: usually considered zilch.)
Well, what do you know--the audio session is available right now! Here it is:
I'll start a new thread to draw everyone's attention to this! (It's 38 minutes long, a little over the scheduled time, so download might take a while, but worth it!)
"Hamilton disputes that church elders are covered by the religious privilege, because they are not trained as clergy. "
Amature voleteers appointed as local overseers within a group are exactly the sort of people for whom these kind of laws were enacted - to force them to bring abuse to the attention of the authorised bodies to deal with, not to deal with it themselves.
The consequences in this case speak from themselves.