2021 Georgia Code
Title 24 - Evidence
Chapter 5 - Privileges
§ 24-5-501. Certain Communications Privileged

Universal Citation: GA Code § 24-5-501 (2021)
  1. There are certain admissions and communications excluded from evidence on grounds of public policy, including, but not limited to, the following:
    1. Communications between husband and wife;
    2. Communications between attorney and client;
    3. Communications among grand jurors;
    4. Secrets of state;
    5. Communications between psychiatrist and patient;
    6. Communications between licensed psychologist and patient as provided in Code Section 43-39-16;
    7. Communications between a licensed clinical social worker, clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric/mental health, licensed marriage and family therapist, or licensed professional counselor and patient;
    8. Communications between or among any psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric/mental health, licensed marriage and family therapist, and licensed professional counselor who are rendering psychotherapy or have rendered psychotherapy to a patient, regarding that patient's communications which are otherwise privileged by paragraph (5), (6), or (7) of this subsection; and
    9. Communications between accountant and client as provided by Code Section 43-3-29.
  2. As used in this Code section, the term:
    1. "Psychotherapy" means the employment of psychotherapeutic techniques.
    2. "Psychotherapeutic techniques" shall have the same meaning as provided in Code Section 43-10A-3.

(Code 1981, §24-5-501, enacted by Ga. L. 2011, p. 99, § 2/HB 24; Ga. L. 2014, p. 136, § 2-1/HB 291.)

The 2014 amendment, effective July 1, 2014, substituted "Code Section 43-3-29" for "Code Section 43-3-32" in paragraph (a)(9).

Cross references.

- Duty of attorney to maintain confidence of clients, § 15-19-4.

Protection of communications between victim assistance personnel and victims, § 17-17-9.1.

Compelling of spouses to testify in proceedings relating to enforcement of duty of support, § 19-11-69.

Privilege of testimony given before medical peer review organization, § 31-7-133.

Treatment of clinical records, §§ 37-3-166,37-4-125.

Maintenance, confidentiality, and release of clinical records; disclosure of confidential or privileged patient information, § 37-7-166.

Disciplining of official or employee of Department of Offender Rehabilitation for violating confidence of inmate supplying information regarding abuses and wrongdoing in the penal system, § 42-5-36.

Confidentiality of communications between accountant and client, § 43-3-32.

Confidentiality of communications between psychologist and client, § 43-39-16.

Law reviews.

- For article on the expansion of the attorney-client privilege in Georgia, see 17 Ga. St. B.J. 150 (1981). For article, "Inadvertent Disclosure of Privileged Material," see 18 Ga. St. B.J. 166 (1982). For annual survey of legal ethics, see 38 Mercer L. Rev. 269 (1986). For article, "The Attorney-Client Privilege: The Common Law and Georgia's Uncommon Statutes," see 5 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 27 (1988). For article, "The Defense Attorney's Ethical Response to Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims," see 5 Ga. St. B.J. 40 (1999). For article, "The Marital Privileges in Georgia: What You Should Know," see 6 Ga. St. B.J. 8 (2001). For article, "The Absolute Privilege Between Patient and Psychiatrist in Civil Cases," see 6 Ga. St. B.J. 14 (2001). For article, "Lawyers as 'Tattletales': A Challenge to the Broad Application of the Attorney-Client Privilege and Rule 1.6, Confidentiality of Information," see 20 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 617 (2004). For annual survey of tort laws, see 67 Mercer L. Rev. 237 (2015). For article, "Toward a Parent-Inclusive Attorney-Client Privilege," see 53 Ga. L. Rev. 991 (2019). For note discussing confidential communication privileges in Georgia, see 2 Ga. St. B.J. 356 (1966). For note discussing discovery proceedings available to creditors, see 12 Ga. L. Rev. 814 (1978). For note, "Conflicts of Interest in the Liability Insurance Setting," see 13 Ga. L. Rev. 973 (1979). For note, "Wills and the Attorney-Client Privilege," see 14 Ga. L. Rev. 325 (1980). For note on the Impact of the Zolin Decision on the Crime-Fraud Exception to the Attorney-Client Privilege, see 24 Ga. L. Rev. 1115 (1990). For note, "Role of Jaffee v. Redmond's 'Course of Diagnosis or Treatment' Condition in Preventing Abuse of the Psychotherapist-Patient Privilege," see 35 Ga. L. Rev. 345 (2000). For note and comment, "Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Worst: The Capital Defender's Guide to Reciprocal Discovery in the Sentencing Phase of Georgia Death Penalty Trials," see 23 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 995 (2007). For note, "Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws in Georgia: Strengthening Protection for Georgia's Children," see 31 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 643 (2015). For comment, "The Government's Privilege to Withhold the Identity of Informers, as Applied to Decoys," see 20 Ga. B.J. 562 (1958). For comment criticizing exclusion from attorney-client privilege of fact and terms of employment in In re Wasserman, 198 F. Supp. 564 (D.D.C. 1961), see 13 Mercer L. Rev. 434 (1962). For comment on Massey v. State, 226 Ga. 703, 177 S.E.2d 79 (1970), cert. denied, 401 U.S. 964, 91 S. Ct. 984, 28 L. Ed. 2d 248 (1971), see 21 J. of Pub. L. 251 (1972). For comment, "Privileged Communications Between Psychiatrist and Patient in Georgia - Termination of the Privilege Upon Death of the Patient," see 9 Ga. St. B.J. 550 (1973). For comment, "The Psychotherapist-Client Testimonial Privilege: Defining the Professional Involved," see 34 Emory L.J. 777 (1985). For comment, "Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws in Georgia: Strengthening Protection for Georgia's Children," see 31 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 643 (2015).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

ANALYSIS

  • General Consideration
  • Communications Between Husband and Wife
  • Communications Between Attorney and Client
  • Communications with Grand Jurors
  • Secrets of State
  • Communications Between Psychiatrist and Patient
  • Other Mental Health Professionals
  • Communications between Physician and Patient

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, opinions under Code 1933, § 38-418, and former O.C.G.A. §§ 24-9-21 and24-9-24 are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Court order or subpoena did not abrogate privilege created by statute relating to the confidentiality of the patient-psychiatrist relationship; any response to a subpoena or court order must take these provisions into consideration. 1974 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U74-86 (decided under former Code 1933, § 38-418).

Attorneys employed by state agencies.

- Although state agencies may employ persons with legal training and experience to serve as administrative legal service officers, those persons may not provide legal advice or representation to the agency, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege arises between the legal services officer and other agency officers or employees, or the agency itself. 1995 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 95-1 (decided under former O.C.G.A. §§ 24-9-21 and24-9-24).

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