The Massachusetts Legislature Should Update the Law on Evidentiary Privilege—to Protect Families

In addition to the many other changes contained in the criminal justice bills that have recently passed the Massachusetts House and Senate, criminal justice reform in the Commonwealth could include one additional significant change in the laws of evidence. The Senate’s bill includes a provision that would disqualify a parent from testifying against a minor child in most criminal cases. The effect would be to make parent/child communications generally legally private, much like confidential discussions between married people. As a lawyer who works often with families—and as a parent—I believe very strongly that this provision works a necessary change in the law and hope that the conference committee now working to create a uniform bill will include it.   The Senate’s bill would provide that a “parent shall not testify against the parent’s minor child” in a criminal matter, except in a case in which the victim is a family member…

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