Camille Cosby has been subpoenaed to testify in a case of defamation brought against her husband, Bill Cosby. On December 9, 2015, counsel served a deposition subpoena on Camille Cosby, seeking her deposition testimony in connection with claims brought by seven women claiming they were defamed by Bill Cosby. On December 18, 2015, Camille Cosby filed a motion to quash her deposition subpoena, or in the alternative, for a protective order.
On December 31, 2014, the magistrate denied the motion, claiming the “Disqualification Rule” in Massachusetts does not limit a spouse from testifying as to their marital conversations in a discovery deposition. The magistrate decided the Disqualification Rule only applies to limit testimony at trial. Camille Cosby has filed an appeal of the magistrate’s order and filed an emergency motion to stay her deposition pending the resolution of her appeal.
At issue is the application of Massachusetts’ Spousal Privilege law, which limits a husband and wife from testifying as to private conversations, and Massachusetts’ evidentiary rule (the Disqualification Rule) which limits, according to the magistrate, conversations only at trial, not in a discovery deposition.
Minnesota has a similar marital privilege statute. Under Minnesota law, there are two distinct marital privileges: a testimonial privilege and a communications privilege. The testimonial privilege prevents one spouse from testifying against the other during the marriage, whereas the communications privilege prohibits compelled testimony during or after the marriage about communications that took place between spouses during the marriage. The spousal/immunity privilege is intended to protect spouses from testifying against each other. The marital privilege is construed narrowly.
For more information or copies of the court orders, please contact Scott V. Kelly.