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Is there precedent for an AA sponsor pleading the "fifth" when

asked to testify about incriminating...
Is there precedent for an AA sponsor pleading the "fifth" when asked to testify about incriminating facts of a sponsee? Doing so would assure that I would never have credibility again as a Recovery Coach or a sponsor or as an AA member who violated the 12th tradition of AA, which is to insure annonimity of members.
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11/19/2013
Marsha411JD
Marsha411JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 20,555
Experience: Licensed Atty, 29 yrs exp in the practice of law.
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Hello,

Thank you for the information and your question. Are you talking about testifying at a criminal trial, or is this a civil issue? Has the sponsor been subpoenaed?
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago


It is a civil trial. I am being threatened with a subpoena but have not been served as yet.

Hello again and thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, there is no "privilege" against testifying based on AA sponsorship. There are several privileges (which don't have to do with the Fifth Amendment, which only has to do with someone's personal right not to incriminate themselves criminally for possible criminal behavior they have done). Those privileges against testimony though are attorney-client, doctor-patient, clergy-parishioner, husband-wife, and psychologist/trist-patient.

So, that means that if you are subpoenaed, unless you would have to admit to your own criminal behavior, you could be held in contempt of court if you did not appear and testify truthfully. The law of the State overrides the rules of the organization. You would not be violating a rule is you are legally compelled.

Please let me know if you have any follow up questions. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago


Could I ask to speak only to the Judge about my sponsees behavior rather than incriminating her in open court? And could I let the defendant know that should I be crossexamined his behavior would also be made known?

Can you tell me what the law suit is about and which side is calling you? Her attorney or the other party's attorney? What is your testimony about?
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago


My sponsee filed a PPO on another member of AA for stalking and harrassment. The member is wanting me to state that my sponsee is a "pathological liar"..I do know her to have a history of being very untruthful when I worked with her but I have not spoken with her for a year and a half. I cannot be considered an expert witness but I can, if forced, tell what I knew about her slight association with facts. The member(defendant) was recently cited and the police were involved. He says he was just picking up his kids. She says he was following her and she wants him in jail. I am not inclined to help either one, at this point. I just want to avoid it. Also, I have health issues which may prevent a court appearance and can I demand a deposition?

Hello again and thank you for the additional information. As I mentioned in my initial answer, if you are subpoenaed you must appear and cooperate. However, you should not say anything that you do know as a fact. So, unless you are asked about a specific situation that you absolutely know where your sponsee did not tell the truth, you should not be in a position to opine about her truthfulness in general. In other words, don't testify to something you don't know. If someone asks you a question that you don't know the answer to, just say so. But, again, you must truthfully answer any question that the court (judge) allows to be asked. The judge will tell the parties, or their attorneys, if they are asking a question that is irrelevant or asks for an opinion you are not qualified to give.

There is no deposition in a hearing like this, so that is not an option. You can ask the judge if you can speak to them in private, but the judge is not likely to allow you to since the party being charged with stalking has a right to participate in your questioning, etc.

I can certainly understand that you do not want to get involved, and ultimately, the judge might not find your testimony to be relevant or of use. But if you are subpoenaed you need to show. If you are genuinely ill and unable to make a particular hearing date, you have to contact the court clerk and talk to them about it.
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