You may come from a close-knit family, says Michael Fox, associate professor of Business Law and Pre-Law Advisor at Mount Saint Mary College, but you might want to hold off on talking to mom and dad when it comes to the law.
Fox recently presented “Tell Mom or Dad? Not So Fast! They May be Called to Testify” as part of the college’s Investigating Research on Campus (iROC) series.
Fox, a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, has published two books and a number of articles on various topics of law. His discussion was based on his own research completed for an upcoming publication titled, You Can’t Tell Mom or Dad: What is the Significance of Family Post-Dobbs if Congress and the Federal Courts Do Not Recognize a Parent-Child Privilege?
Fox co-authored the article with his father, Mark D. Fox, a retired federal judge (U.S. Magistrate Judge, Southern District of New York 1988-2008).
There are several privileges in law. In a legally recognized privilege, the information discussed between two specific parties cannot be inquired into. In other words, such conversations are done in confidence.
Four such privileges are used the most, said Fox:
- Attorney-Client, which he noted is generally accepted as the oldest and strongest
What’s not on that list in most states – and what a layman might erroneously expect to be a given – is parent-child privilege.
“Despite numerous political and social invocations of the importance of family, in most places, if a child confides in their parent or guardian that they committed a crime and seeks parental advice, the parent or guardian may be called to testify,” Fox explained.
With this in mind, Fox and his father have penned a proposal publication intended for Congress or the Supreme Court to consider creating a new parent-child privilege under federal law in the Federal Rules of Evidence.
The goal of the iROC series is to provide a forum for Mount faculty, staff, and students to showcase their research endeavors with both Mount Saint Mary College and the local community. These talks are free and open to the public.