Louisiana Supreme Court Opinions
In re: Grand Jury Subpoena
Opinion Date: May 28, 2020
Judge: Bernette J. Johnson
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
In 2018, the target of a grand jury investigation was charged by Bill of Information with one count of molestation of a juvenile, a violation of La. R.S. 14:81.2, arising from an incident in 2003 in which he allegedly molested his children’s babysitter. The target was subsequently arrested and pled not guilty. In conjunction with the grand jury proceeding, the state issued a subpoena to the target’s wife, to appear before the grand jury. The wife filed an “Affidavit of Spouse” wherein she asserted “her lawful privilege to refuse to give evidence in any criminal proceeding against her husband, pursuant to Louisiana Code of Evidence article 505.” The Louisiana Supreme Court granted review of this matter to determine whether the spousal witness privilege in Article 505 could be invoked in a grand jury proceeding investigating the molestation of a juvenile. Because the grand jury proceeding involved an allegation and investigation of the sexual abuse of a child, the Court found the spousal privilege was abrogated by Ls. R.S. 14:403(B). The Court reversed the district court, which found the spousal privilege applied.
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