Ryan Spanheimer


Due to ever-increasing court congestion and contemporary policy favoring the resolution of disputes outside the courtroom, now more than ever a privilege for communications with an ombudsman is needed. Although statistics demonstrate that an ombudsman can quickly and effectively resolve disputes, courts have been inconsistent in recognizing such a privilege. This failure to consistently recognize a privilege for communications with an ombudsman places practicing ombudsmen in a catch-22. Ombudsmen are left to decide between disregarding standards of practice they have sworn to follow, most notably that ombudsmen keep communications in confidence, on the one hand, or of violating a court order requiring disclosure of the communications made to the ombudsman, on the other. Recognizing an ombudsman privilege will eliminate this dilemma without unduly impeding access to evidence, as an ombudsman privilege is merely a different embodiment of privileges and rules of evidence already in effect.

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