Every person in New Mexico has a statutory duty to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect to the proper authorities. Does this duty extend to attorneys who have their own set of ethical rules prohibiting disclosure of confidential client information? In State v. Strauch, the New Mexico Supreme Court held that the “every person” language of the Abuse and Neglect Act extends the mandatory duty to report to all persons, not just those professionals who work most frequently with children and are enumerated in the statute. This interpretation spurs an analysis of the interplay among the attorney-client privilege, the rules of professional conduct for attorneys, and the legislative authority to affect these rules of the court. Likely, the court rules governing ethical attorney conduct and the attorney-client privilege supersede the legislature’s attempt to require attorneys to report child abuse or neglect when doing so would violate attorney-client confidentiality.
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Between a Rock and an Ethical Duty: Attorney Obligations Under the Reporting Requirement of New Mexico’s Abuse and Neglect Act,
N.M. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalrepository.unm.edu/nmlr/vol47/iss2/6