Rule 500. General Rule
Privileges as they now exist or may be modified by law shall be unaffected by the adoption of these rules. For convenience in reference certain existing provisions of law relating to privileges are enumerated in Article V.
Rule 501. Privilege of Accused
N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-17 provides:
(1) Every person has in any criminal action in which he is an accused a right not to be called as a witness and not to testify.
[n*] (2) The spouse of the accused in a criminal action shall not testify in such action except to prove the fact of marriage unless (a) such spouse and the accused shall both consent, or (b) the accused is charged with an offense against the spouse, a child of the accused or of the spouse, or a child to whom the accused or the spouse stands in the place of a parent, or (c) such spouse is the complainant.
(3) An accused in a criminal action has no privilege to refuse when ordered by the judge, to submit his body to examination or to do any act in the presence of the judge or the trier of fact, except to refuse to testify.
[n*] Publisher's Note: L. 1992, c. 142, § 1, amended N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-17(2) , effective November 17, 1992, to read:
"(2) The spouse of the accused in a criminal action shall not testify in such action except to prove the fact of marriage unless (a) such spouse consents, or (b) the accused is charged with an offense against the spouse, a cheld of the accused or of the spouse, or a child to whom the accused or the spouse stands in the place of a parent, or (c) such spouse is the complainant."
Rule 502. Defintion of Incrimination
N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-18 provides:
Within the meaning of this article, a matter will incriminate (a) if it constitutes an element of a crime against this State, or another State or the United States, or (b) is a circumstance which with other circumstances would be a basis for a reasonable inference of the commission of such a crime, or (c) is a clue to the discovery of a matter which is within clauses (a) or (b) above; provided, a matter will not be held to incriminate if it clearly appears that the witness has no reasonable cause to apprehend a criminal prosecution. In determining whether a matter is incriminating under clauses (a), (b) or (c) and whether a criminal prosecution is to be apprehended, other matters in evidence, or disclosed in argument, the implications of the question, the setting in which it is asked, the applicable statute of limitations and all other factors, shall be taken into consideration.
Rule 503. Self-Incrimination
N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-19 provides:
Subject to Rule 37 [Rule 530], every natural person has a right to refuse to disclose in an action or to a police officer or other official any matter that will incriminate him or expose him to a penalty or a forfeiture of his estate, except that under this rule:
(a) no person has the privilege to refuse to submit to examination for the purpose of discovering or recording his corporal features and other identifying characteristics or his physical or mental condition;
(b) no person has the privilege to refuse to obey an order made by a court to produce for use as evidence or otherwise a document, chattel or other thing under his control if some other person or a corporation or other association has a superior right to the possession of the thing ordered to be produced;
(c) no person has a privilege to refuse to disclose any matter which the statutes or regulations governing his office, activity, occupation, profession or calling, or governing the corporation or association of which he is an officer, agent or employee, require him to record or report or disclose except to the extent that such statutes or regulations provide that the matter to be recorded, reported or disclosed shall be privileged or confidential;
(d) subject to the same limitations on evidence affecting credibility as apply to any other witness, the accused in a criminal action or a party in a civil action who voluntarily testifies in the action upon the merits does not have the privilege to refuse to disclose in that action, any matter relevant to any issue therein.
Rule 504. Lawyer-Client Privilege
N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-20 provides:
(1) General rule. Subject to Rule 37 [Rule 530] and except as otherwise provided by paragraph 2 of this rule communications between lawyer and his client in the course of that relationship and in professional confidence, are privileged, and a client has a privilege (a) to refuse to disclose any such communication, and (b) to prevent his lawyer from disclosing it, and (c) to prevent any other witness from disclosing such communication if it came to the knowledge of such witness (i) in the course of its transmittal between the client and the lawyer, or (ii) in a manner not reasonably to be anticipated, or (iii) as a result of a breach of the lawyer-client relationship, or (iv) in the course of a recognized confidential or privileged communication between the client and such witness. The privilege shall be claimed by the lawyer unless otherwise instructed by the client or his representative; the privilege may be claimed by the client in person, or if incompetent or deceased, by his guardian or personal representative. Where a corporation or association is the client having the privilege and it has been dissolved, the privilege may be claimed by its successors, assigns or trustees in dissolution.
(2) Exceptions. Such privilege shall not extend (a) to a communication in the course of legal service sought or obtained in aid of the commission of a crime or a fraud, or (b) to a communication relevant to an issue between parties all of whom claim through the client, regardless of whether the respective claims are by testate or intestate succession or by inter vivos transaction, or (c) to a communication relevant to an issue of breach of duty by the lawyer to his client, or by the client to his lawyer. Where 2 or more persons have employed a lawyer to act for them in common, none of them can assert such privilege as against the others as to communications with respect to that matter.
(3) Definitions. As used in this rule (a) "client" means a person or corporation or other association that, directly or through an authorized representative, consults a lawyer or the lawyer's representative for the purpose of retaining the lawyer or securing legal service or advice from him in his professional capacity; and includes an incompetent whose guardian so consults the lawyer or the lawyer's representative in behalf of the incompetent, (b) "lawyer" means a person authorized, or reasonably believed by the client to be authorized to practice law in any State or nation the law of which recognizes a privilege against disclosure of confidential communications between client and lawyer. A communication made in the course of relationship between lawyer and client shall be presumed to have been made in professional confidence unless knowingly made within the hearing of some person whose presence nullified the privilege.
Rule 505. Psychologist Privilege
N.J.S.A. 45:14B-28 provides:
The confidential relations and communications between and among a licensed practicing psychologist and individuals, couples, families or groups in the course of the practice of psychology are placed on the same basis as those provided between attorney and client, and nothing in this act shall be construed to require any such privileged communications to be disclosed by any such person.
There is no privilege under this section for any communication: (a) upon an issue of the client's condition in an action to commit the client or otherwise place the client under the control of another or others because of alleged incapacity , or in an action in which the client seeks to establish his competence or in an action to recover damages on account of conduct of the client which constitutes a crime; or (b) upon an issue as to the validity of a document as a will of the client; or (c) upon an issue between parties claiming by testate or intestate succession from a deceased client.
Rule 506. Patient and Physician Privilege
(a) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.1 provides:
As used in this act, (a) "patient" means a person who, for the sole purpose of securing preventive, palliative, or curative treatment, or a diagnosis preliminary to such treatment, of his physical or mental condition, consults a physician, or submits to an examination by a physician; (b) "physician" means a person authorized or reasonably believed by the patient to be authorized, to practice medicine in the State or jurisdiction in which the consultation or examination takes place; (c) "holder of the privilege" means the patient while alive and not under the guardianship or the guardian of the person of an incompetent patient, or the personal representative of a deceased patient; (d) "confidential communication between physician and patient" means such information transmitted between physician and patient, including information obtained by an examination of the patient, as is transmitted in confidence and by a means which, so far as the patient is aware, discloses the information to no third persons other than those reasonably necessary for the transmission of the information or the accomplishment of the purpose for which it is transmitted.
(b) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.2 provides:
Except as otherwise provided in this act, a person, whether or not a party, has a privilege in a civil action or in a prosecution for a crime or violation of the disorderly persons law or for an act of juvenile delinquency to refuse to disclose, and to prevent a witness from disclosing, a communication, if he claims the privilege and the judge finds that (a) the communication was a confidential communication between patient and physician, and (b) the patient or the physician reasonably believed the communication to be necessary or helpful to enable the physician to make a diagnosis of the condition of the patient or to prescribe or render treatment therefor, and (c) the witness (i) is the holder of the privilege or (ii) at the time of the communication was the physician or a person to whom disclosure was made because reasonably necessary for the transmission of the communication or for the accomplishment of the purpose for which it was transmitted or (iii) is any other person who obtained knowledge or possession of the communication as the result of an intentional breach of the physician's duty of nondisclosure by the physician or his agent or servant and (d) the claimant is the holder of the privilege or a person authorized to claim the privilege for him.
(c) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22 -3 provides:
There is no privilege under this act as to any relevant communication between the patient and his physician (a) upon an issue of the patient's condition in an action to commit him or otherwise place him under the control of another or others because of alleged incapacity, or in an action in which the patient seeks to establish his competence or in an action to recover damages on account of conduct of the patient which constitutes a criminal offense other than a misdemeanor, or (b) upon an issue as to the validity of a document as a will of the patient, or (c) upon an issue between parties claiming by testate or intestate succession from a deceased patient.
(d) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.4 provides:
There is no privilege under this act in an action in which the condition of the patient is an element or factor of the claim or defense of the patient or of any party claiming through or under the patient or claiming as a beneficiary of the patient through a contract to which the patient is or was a party or under which the patient is or was insured.
(e) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.5 provides:
There is no privilege under this act as to information which the physician or the patient is required to report to a public official or as to information required to be recorded in a public office, unless the statute requiring the report or record specifically provides that the information shall not be disclosed.
(f) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.6 provides:
No person has a privilege under this act if the judge finds that sufficient evidence, aside from the communication has been introduced to warrant a finding that the services of the physician were sought or obtained to enable or aid anyone to commit or to plan to commit a crime or a tort, or to escape detection or apprehension after the commission of a crime or a tort.
(g) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.7 provides:
A privilege under this act as to a communication is terminated if the judge finds that any person while a holder of the privilege has caused the physician or any agent or servant of the physician to testify in any action to any matter of which the physician or his agent or servant gained knowledge through the communication.
Rule 507. Utilization Review Committees of Certified Hospital or Extended Care Facility; Exceptions
(a) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.8 provides:
Information and data secured by and in the possession of utilization review committees established by any certified hospital or extended care facility in the performance of their duties shall not be revealed or disclosed in any manner or under any circumstances by any member of such committee except to: (a) a patient's attending physician, (b) the chief administrative officer of the hospital or extended care facility which it serves, (c) the medical executive committee, or comparable enforcement unit, of such hospital or extended care facility, (d) representatives of, including intermediaries or carriers for, government agencies in the performance of their duties, under the provisions of Federal and State law, or (e) any hospital service corporation, medical service corporation or insurance company with which said patient has pertinent coverage under a contract, policy or certificate, the terms of which authorize the carrier to request and be given such information and data.
(b) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.9 provides:
No member of a utilization review committee may be held liable for damages or otherwise prejudiced in any manner by reason of recommendations or findings made by said committee or for furnishing information or data obtained in the course of his duties as a member of a committee to the persons and officials mentions in section 1 [2A:84A-22.8] hereof.
Rule 508. Newsperson's Privilege
(a) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21 provides:
Subject to Rule 37 [Rule 530], a person engaged on, engaged in, connected with, or employed by news media for the purpose of gathering, procuring, transmitting, compiling, editing or disseminating news for the general public or on whose behalf news is so gathered, procured, transmitted, compiled, edited or disseminated has a privilege to refuse to disclose, in any legal or quasi-legal proceeding or before any investigative body, including, but not limited to, any court, grand jury, petit jury, administrative agency, the Legislature or legislative committee, or elsewhere.
a. The source, author, means, agency or person from or through whom any information was procured, obtained, supplied, furnished, gathered, transmitted, compiled, edited, disseminated, or delivered; and
b. Any news or information obtained in the course of pursuing his professional activities whether or not it is disseminated.
The provisions of this rule insofar as it relates to radio or television stations shall not apply unless the radio or television station maintains and keeps open for inspection, for a period of at least 1 year from the date of an actual broadcast or telecast, an exact recording, transcription, kinescopic film or certified written transcript of the actual broadcast or telecast.
(b) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21 a provides:
Unless a different meaning clearly appears from the context of this act, as used in this act:
a. "News media" means newspapers, magazines, press associations, news agencies, wire services, radio, television or other similar printed, photographic, mechanical or electronic means of disseminating news to the general public.
b. "News" means any written, oral or pictorial information gathered, procured, transmitted, compiled, edited or disseminated by, or on behalf of any person engaged in, engaged on, connected with or employed by a news media and so procured or obtained while such required relationship is in effect.
c. "Newspaper" means a paper that is printed and distributed ordinarily not less frequently than once a week and that contains news, articles of opinion, editorials, features, advertising, or other matter regarded as of current interest, has a paid circulation and has been entered at a United States post office as second class matter.
d. "Magazine" means a publication containing news which is published and distributed periodically, has a paid circulation and has been entered at a United States post office as second class matter.
e. "News agency" means a commercial organization that collects and supplies news to subscribing newspapers, magazines, periodicals and news broadcasters.
f. "Press association" means an association of newspapers or magazines formed to gather and distribute news to its members.
g. "Wire service" means a news agency that sends out syndicated news copy by wire to subscribing newspapers, magazines, periodicals or news broadcasters.
h. "In the course of pursuing his professional activities" means any situation, including a social gathering, in which a reporter obtains information for the purpose of disseminating it to the public, but does not include any situation in which a reporter intentionally conceals from the source the fact that he is a reporter, and does not include any situation in which a reporter is an eyewitness to, or participant in, any act involving physical violence or property damage.
(c) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21.1 provides:
Where a newsperson is required to disclose information pursuant to a subpena issued by or on behalf of a defendant in a criminal proceeding, not including proceedings before administrative or investigative bodies, grand juries, or legislative committees or commissions, the provisions and procedures in this act are applicable to the claim and exercise of the newsperson's privilege under Rule 27 n[*] (C. 2A:84A-21).
[n*] Pub. Note: There is no bracketed reference to new rule in original Court copy.
(d) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21.2 provides:
Proceedings pursuant to this act shall take place before the trial, except that the court may allow a motion to institute proceedings pursuant to this act to be made during trial if the court determines that the evidence sought is newly discovered and could not have been discovered earlier through the exercise of due diligence.
(e) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21.3 provides:
a. To sustain a claim of the newsperson's privilege under Rule 27 the claimant shall make a prima facie showing that he is engaged in, connected with, or employed by a news media for the purpose of gathering, procuring, transmitting, compiling, editing or disseminating news for the general public or on whose behalf news is so gathered, procured, transmitted, compiled, edited or disseminated, and that the subpenaed materials were obtained in the course of pursuing his professional activities.
b. To overcome a finding by the court that the claimant has made a prima facie showing under a. above, the party seeking enforcement of the subpena shall show by clear and convincing evidence that the privilege has been waived under Rule 37 (C. 2A:84A-29) or by a preponderance of the evidence that there is a reasonable probability that the subpenaed materials are relevant, material and necessary to the defense, that they could not be secured from any less intrusive source, that the value of the material sought as it bears upon the issue of guilt or innocence outweighs the privilege against disclosure, and that the request is not overbroad, oppressive, or unreasonably burdensome which may be overcome by evidence that all or part of the information sought is irrelevant, immaterial, unnecessary to the defense, or that it can be secured from another source. Publication shall constitute a waiver only as to the specific materials published.
c. The determinations to be made by the court pursuant to this section shall be made only after a hearing in which the party claiming the privilege and the party seeking enforcement of the subpena shall have a full opportunity to present evidence and argument with respect to each of the materials or items sought to be subpenaed.
(f) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21.4 provides:
Upon a finding by the court that there has been a waiver as to any of the materials sought or that any of the materials sought meet the criteria set forth in subsection 3.b., the court shall order the production of such materials, and such materials only, for in camera inspection and determination as to its probable admissibility in the trial. The party claiming the privilege and the party seeking enforcement of the subpena shall be entitled to a hearing in connection with the in camera inspection of such materials by the court, during which hearing each party shall have a full opportunity to be heard. If the court, after its in camera review of the materials, determines that such materials are admissible according to the standards set forth in subsection 3.b., the court shall direct production of such materials, and such materials only.
(g) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21.5 provides:
After any hearing conducted by the court pursuant to section 3 or 4 hereof, the court shall make specific findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect to its rulings, which findings shall be in writing or set forth on the record.
(h) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21.6 provides:
An interlocutory appeal taken from a decision to uphold or quash a subpena shall act as a stay of all penalties which may have been imposed for failure to comply with the court's order. The record on appeal shall be kept under seal until such time as appeals are exhausted. In the event that all material or any part thereof is found to be privileged, the record as to that privileged material shall remain permanently sealed. Any subpenaed materials which shall, upon exhaustion and determination of such appeals, be found to be privileged, shall be returned to the party claiming the privilege.
(i) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21.7 provides:
Where proceedings are instituted hereunder by one of several co-defendants in a criminal trial, notice shall be provided to all of the co-defendants. Any co-defendant shall have the right to intervene if the co-defendant can demonstrate, pursuant to section 3, that the materials sought by the issuance of the subpena bear upon his guilt or innocence. Where such intervention is sought by a co-defendant, that co-defendant shall be required, prior to being permitted to participate in any in camera proceeding, to make that showing required of a defendant in section 3.
(j) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-21.8 provides:
If the court finds no reasonable basis for requesting the information has been shown, costs, including counsel fee, may be assessed against the party seeking enforcement of the subpena. Where an application for costs or counsel fee is made, the judge shall set forth his reasons for awarding or denying same.
Rule 509. Marital Privilege -- Confidential Communications
N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22 provides:
[n*] No person shall disclose any communication made in confidence between such person and his or her spouse unless both shall consent to the disclosure or unless the communication is relevant to an issue in an action between them or in a criminal action or proceeding in which either spouse consents to the disclosure, or in a criminal action or proceeding coming within Rule 23(2). When a spouse is incompetent or deceased, consent to the disclosure may be given for such spouse by the guardian, executor or administrator. The requirement for consent shall not terminate with divorce or separation. A communication between spouses while living separate and apart under a divorce from bed and board shall not be a privileged communication.
[n*] Publisher' Note: L. 1992, c. 142, § 2,amended N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22 , effective November 17, 1992, to read:
"No person shall disclose any communication made in confidence between such person and his or her spouse unless both shall consent to the disclosure or unless the communication is relevant to an issue in an action between them or in a criminal action or proceeding in which either spouse consents to the disclosure, or in a criminal action or proceeding coming within Rule 23(2). When a spouse is incompetent or deceased, consent to the disclosure may be given for such spouse by the guardian, executor or administrator. The requirement for consent shall not terminate with divorce or separation. A communication between spouses while living separate and apart under a divorce from bed and board shall not be privileged communication."
Rule 510. Marriage Counselor Privilege
N.J.S.A. 45:8B-29 provides:
A communication between a marriage and family therapist and the person or persons in therapy shall be confidential and its secrecy preserved. This privilege shall not be subject to waiver, except where the marriage and family therapist is a party defendant to a civil, criminal or disciplinary action arising from the therapy, in which case, the waiver shall be limited to that action.
Rule 511. Cleric-Pentinent Privilege
N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-23 provides:
Any communication made in confidence to a cleric in the cleric's professional character, or as a spiritual advisor in the course of the discipline or practice of the religious body to which the cleric belongs or of the religion which the cleric professes, shall be privileged. Privileged communications shall include confessions and other communications made in confidence between and among the cleric and individuals, couples, families or groups in the exercise of the cleric's professional or spiritual counseling role.
As used in this section, "cleric" means a priest, rabbi, minister or other person or practitioner authorized to perform similar functions of any religion.
The privilege accorded to communications under this rule shall belong to both the cleric and the person or persons making the communication and shall be subject to waiver only under the following circumstances:
(1) both the person or persons making the communication and the cleric consent to the waiver of the privilege; or
(2) the privileged communication pertains to a future criminal act, in which case, the cleric alone may, but is not required to, waive the privilege.
Rule 512. Religious Belief
Every person has a privilege to refuse to disclose his theological opinion or religious belief unless his adherence or nonadherence to such an opinion or belief is material to an issue in the action other than that of his credibility as a witness.
Rule 513. Political Vote
Every person has a privilege to refuse to disclose the tenor of his vote at a political election unless the judge finds that the vote was cast illegally.
Rule 514. Trade Secret
The owner of a trade secret has a privilege, which may be claimed by him or his agent or employee, to refuse to disclose the secret and to prevent other persons from disclosing it if the judge finds that the allowance of the privilege will not tend to conceal fraud or otherwise work injustice.
Rule 515. Official Information
No person shall disclose official information of this State or of the United States (a) if disclosure is forbidden by or pursuant to any Act of Congress or of this State, or (b) if the judge finds that disclosure of the information in the action will be harmful to the interests of the public.
Rule 516. Identity of Informer
A witness has a privilege to refuse to disclose the identity of a person who has furnished information purporting to disclose a violation of a provision of the laws of this State or of the United States to a representative of the State or the United States or a governmental division thereof, charged with the duty of enforcing that provision, and evidence thereof is inadmissible, unless the judge finds that (a) the identity of the person furnishing the information has already been otherwise disclosed or (b) disclosure of his identity is essential to assure a fair determination of the issues.
Rule 517. Victim Counselor Privilege
(a) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.13 provides:
The Legislature finds and declares that:
a. The emotional and psychological injuries that are inflicted on victims of violence are often more serious than the physical injuries suffered;
b. Counseling is often a successful treatment to ease the real and profound psychological trauma experienced by these victims and their families;
c. In the counseling process, victims of violence openly discuss their emotional reactions to the crime. These reactions are often highly intertwined with their personal histories and psychological profile;
d. Counseling of violence and victims is most successful when the victims are assured their thoughts and feelings will remain confidential and will not be disclosed without their permission; and
e. Confidentiality should be accorded all victims of violence who require counseling whether or not they are able to afford the services of private psychiatrists or psychologists.
Therefore, it is the public policy of this State to extend a testimonial privilege encompassing the contents of communications with a victim counselor and to render immune from discovery or legal process the records of these communications maintained by the counselor.
(b) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.14 provides:
As used in this act:
a. "Act of violence" means the commission or attempt to commit any of the offenses set forth in subsection b. of section 11 of P.L.1971, c. 317 (C. 52:4B-11).
b. "Confidential communication" means any information exchanged between a victim and a victim counselor in private or in the presence of a third party who is necessary to facilitate communication or further the counseling process and which is disclosed in the course of the counselor's treatment of the victim for any emotional or psychological condition resulting from an act of violence. It includes any advice, report or working paper given or made in the course of the consultation and all information received by the victim counselor in the course of that relationship.
c. "Victim" means a person who consults a counselor for the purpose of securing advice, counseling or assistance concerning a mental, physical or emotional condition caused by an act of violence.
d. "Victim counseling center" means any office, institution, or center offering assistance to victims and their families through crisis intervention, medical and legal accompaniment and follow-up counseling.
e. "Victim counselor" means a person engaged in any office, institution or center defined as a victim counseling center by this act, who has undergone 40 hours of training and is under the control of a direct services supervisor of the center and who has a primary function of rendering advice, counseling or assisting victims of acts of violence.
(c) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.15 provides:
Subject to Rule 37 [Rule 530] of the Rules of Evidence, a victim counselor has a privilege not to be examined as a witness in any civil or criminal proceeding with regard to any confidential communication. The privilege shall be claimed by the counselor unless otherwise instructed by prior written consent of the victim. When a victim is incompetent or deceased consent to disclosure may be given by the guardian, executor or administrator except when the guardian, executor or administrator is the defendant or has a relationship with the victim such that he has an interest in the outcome of the proceeding. The privilege may be knowingly waived by a juvenile. In any instance where the juvenile is, in the opinion of the judge, incapable of knowing consent, the parent or guardian of the juvenile may waive the privilege on behalf of the juvenile, provided that the parent or guardian is not the defendant and does not have a relationship with the defendant such that he has an interest in the outcome of the proceeding. A victim counselor or a victim cannot be compelled to provide testimony in any civil or criminal proceeding that would identify the name, address, location, or telephone number of a domestic violence shelter or any other facility that provided temporary emergency shelter to the victim of the offense or transaction that is the subject of the proceeding unless the facility is a party to the proceeding.
(d) N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.16 provides:
Nothing in this act shall be deemed to prevent the disclosure to a defendant in a criminal action of statements or information given by a victim to a county victim-witness coordinator, where the disclosure of the statements or information is required by the Constitution of this State or of the United States.
Rule 518 Social Worker Privilege
N.J.S.A. 45:15BB-13 provides:
A social worker licensed or certified pursuant to the provisions of this act shall not be required to disclose any confidential information that the social worker may have acquired from a client or patient while performing social work services for that client or patient unless:
a. Disclosure is required by other State law;
b. Failure to discloe the information presents a clear and present danger to the health or safety of an individual;
c. The social worker is a party defendant to a civil, criminal or disciplinary action arising from the social work services provided, in which case a waiver of the privilege accorded by this section shall be limited to that action;
d. The patien or client is a defendant in a criminal proceeding and the use of the privilege would violate the defendant's right to a compulsory process or the right to present testimony and witnesses on that person's behalf; or
e. A patient or client agrees to waive the privilege accorded by this section, and, in circumstances where more than one person in a family is receiving social work services, each such member agrees to the waiver. Absent a waiver from each family member, a social worker shall not disclose any information received from any family member.
Rule 519 to 529. [Reserved]
Rule 530 Waiver of Privilege by Contract or Previous Disclosure; Limitations
N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-29 provides:
A person waives his right or privilege to refuse to disclose or to prevent another from disclosing a specified matter if he or any other person while the holder thereof has (a) contracted with anyone not to claim the right or privilege or, (b) without coercion and with knowledge of his right or privilege, made disclosure of any part of the privileged matter or consented to such a disclosure made by anyone.
A disclosure which is itself privileged or otherwise protected by the common law, statutes or rules of court of this State, or by lawful contract, shall not constitute a waiver under this section. The failure of a witness to claim a right or privilege with respect to one question shall not operate as a waiver with respect to any other question.
Rule 531. Admissibility of Disclosure Wrongfully Compelled
N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-30 provides:
Evidence of a statement or other disclosure is inadmissible against the holder of the privilege if the disclosure was wrongfully made or erroneously required.
Rule 532. Reference to Exercise of Privileges
N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-31 provides:
If a privilege is exercised not to testify or to prevent another from testifying, either in the action or with respect to particular matters, or to refuse to disclose or to prevent another from disclosing any matter, the judge and counsel may not comment thereon, no presumption shall arise with respect to the exercise of the privilege, and the trier of fact may not draw any adverse inference therefrom. In those jury cases wherein the right to exercise a privilege, as herein provided, may be misunderstood and unfavorable inferences drawn by the trier of the fact, or be impaired in the particular case, the court, at the request of the party exercising the privilege, may instruct the jury in support of such privilege.
Rule 533. Effect of Error in Overruling Claim of Privilege
N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-32 provides:
(1) A party may predicate error on a ruling disallowing a claim of privilege only if he is the holder of the privilege.
(2) If a witness refuses to answer a question, under color of a privilege claimed pursuant to Rules 23 through 38, after the judge has ordered the witness to answer, and a contempt proceeding is brought against the witness, the court hearing the same shall order it dismissed if it appears that the order directing the witness to answer was erroneous.
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