Can My Wife Testify Against Me in Court: Spousal Privilege in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has long recognized the right of a husband or wife to refuse to testify against the other.   The invocation of the spousal privilege could result in otherwise relevant evidence excluded from a civil or criminal trial.   So, one might ask why would the courts allow that?   For the answer to that you need only look to the current debates regarding the sanctity of marriage.   Our country has long demonstrated an interest in the preservation of the marital relationship.    The marital relationship has been considered to be sacred to the prosperity of our nation and should be protected above all.   The United States Supreme Court held that the spousal privilege is “…so essential to the preservation of the marriage relationship as to outweigh the disadvantages to the administration of justice.” Wolfe v. U.S., 291 U.S. 7 (1934).   Like the privileges involving attorney client, healthcare providers, counselors and clergy, the focus is on the social values of the relationships and the need to protect the trust contained therein.

What is the Spousal Privilege

There are two spousal privileges under Pennsylvania law.   The privilege not to testify against one’s spouse, often referred to as adverse testimony privilege, under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §5924 and the privilege not to testify about confidential communications between spouses under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. §5924.   Each of these privileges can be asserted in both criminal and civil court.

It is important to determine what the spouse is being asked to testify about to determine which privilege may apply. Is the wife being asked to testify about what her husband said to her or about something she observed. The distinction not only determines what testimony is being challenged, but also who holds the right to assert the privilege. Read More...

Resolving Employment Disputes through Mediation

Mediation is an effective method to resolve employment disputes when negotiations have failed to resolve the conflict. Mediation can resolve such employment disputes as discrimination claims, interpersonal issues between employees, wrongful termination claims or other employment disputes that arise out of the employment relationship.

Mediation avoids the expense and delay of litigation. Mediation does not drag out the process like litigation tends to when parties often wait for years for a resolution. Legal fees can be drastically reduced by this reduction in time that lawyers have to devote to the case. Furthermore, mediation avoids the public disclosure of private or personal matters since it is confidential.

Mediation puts the power back in the parties’ hands. A judge or other decision maker does not impose an order on the parties. Instead, the parties engage in creative problem-solving to help resolve the legal issue. They may reach more creative solutions such as reassignment, changing schedules, transferring or creating new policies that would not result from litigation. The parties are free to contract to whatever they agree to, so long as it is legal. In this manner, the parties are often able to retain a respectful relationship with each other without having to resort to litigation.

work/life balance
Signs of Companies that Support Work/Life Balance

Working for a company that supports your personal pursuits can make a significant difference in your life. Some real-life ways that companies have set themselves apart include:

  • Paid time off – Paid time off allows employees to tend to personal business so that it does not interfere during scheduled work time.
  • Paid maternity leave – Many companies have shown their commitment to families by offering paid maternity and paternity leave after the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Paid vacation – Vacation time is necessary to re-energize and avoid burnout.
  • Nap rooms – A quick nap during the day has actually been shown to increase productivity and energy.
  • Flexibility in work schedules – Flexible hours that allow employees to tend to childcare or other responsibilities often means a lot to employees.
  • elecommuting opportunities – Many jobs today can be completed with a phone and computer without being chained to a desk.

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Divorce and Family Law Legal Attorneys
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Health Habits to Kick Up for Spring

Spring brings about new life and energy. Some healthy habits you might want to pick up this season include:

  • Take swimming lessons – Keep your kids safe by signing them up for swimming lessons. This keeps them safe and healthy.
  • Garden – In addition to adding curb appeal, gardening burns about 300 calories an hour.
  • Support other gardeners – Consider shopping at your local farmer’s market for fruit, produce, flowers and other goods. These items are often organic and devoid of unnecessary preservatives or other chemicals found in mass-produced foods.
  • Spring clean – Get rid of unhealthy items that have gone past their expiration dates, including food, medicines and makeup.
  • Get dirty – Being exposed to common bacteria can actually help boost your immune system while also boosting vitamins and proteins in your body.

Lawyer Goofs

Here are some not-so-smart things some other lawyers and witnesses have said:

Q: So the date of conception was October 1?
A: Yes.
Q: And what were you doing at that time?

Q: You said the stairs went down to the basement, right?
A: Yes.
Q: Did these stairs also go up?

Q: Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
A: All of them.

Q: What was the first thing your husband said to you when he woke up?
A: “Where am I Melissa?”
Q: Why did that upset you?
A: Because my name is Kathy.

Q: All of your responses must be oral. You understand, right? What is your profession?
A: Oral.

Q: Do you remember the time when you began to examine the body?
A: The autopsy started at about 9:00 p.m.
Q: And Mr. Smith was dead at the time?
A: No. He was sitting on the table wondering why I was performing an autopsy.

Fields of Law
Here's an overview of the fields of law our attorneys practice.
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