State v. Crisco, 243 N.C. App. 578 (Oct. 20, 2015)

In this murder case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that the clergy-communicant privilege prohibited admission of evidence regarding the defendant’s confession to his pastor. The court noted that there are two requirements for this privilege to apply: the defendant must be seeking the counsel and advice of his or her minister; and the information must be entrusted to the minister as a confidential communication. Here, the evidence in question was not the defendant’s confession to the pastor; it was evidence that the defendant told a third-party who was not a member of the clergy that he had confessed to the pastor about the murder. Because no recognized privilege existed between the defendant and that third-party, the defendant’s statement to the third-party that he had confessed to a preacher was not privileged. The court continued, concluding that even if error had occurred the defendant failed to show prejudice.