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10 U. Md. L.J. Race, Religion, Gender & Class 375 (2010)
Let My Love Open the Door: The Case for Extending Marital Privileges to Unmarried Cohabitants

handle is hein.journals/margin10 and id is 379 raw text is: LET MY LOVE OPEN THE DOOR: THE CASE FOR
Catherine Acker and Samuel Holly lived together for twenty-
five years and held themselves out as a married couple throughout that
period.I The two states in which they lived over the course of their
relationship  did not recognize common        law  marriage.2 In    1993,
Catherine was a defendant in a criminal trial for robbery and unlawful
use of a firearm.3 Samuel agreed to testify against her. Blindsided by
the idea that intimate conversations with her longtime partner could be
used against her at trial, Catherine sought refuge in the marital
communications privilege to bar Samuel's testimony.5 Even though a
claim of a marital privilege generally must be supported by a valid
marriage, she argued that it should extend to their relationship because
it was akin to a marriage except for the technical legal status.
The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit considered
Catherine's plea. First, it acknowledged the societal trend of couples
choosing   to  cohabitate   without marrying;7     however, the     Court
disagreed with Catherine and followed the bright-line rule that marital
privileges cannot be invoked in the absence of a valid marriage.' The
Court thus rejected Catherine's privilege claim, and permitted
Samuel's testimony.9
Copyright 0 2011 by Julia Cardozo.
*University of Maryland School of Law Juris Doctor candidate, 2011. Middlebury College,
B.A., History, 2006. Special thanks to Professor Jana Singer for her guidance and
encouragement, and to my family for their constant support.
I. United States v. Acker, 52 F.3d 509, 514 (4th Cir. 1995).
2. Id. at 514. They lived in New York and North Carolina. Id.
3. Id.at5ll.
4. Id.at5ll-12.
5. Id.
6. Id. at 514.
7. Id. at 515 (noting that present day experience may indicate that more couples are
living together without the benefit of marriage).
8. Id. (holding that the defendant must have assumed both the privileges and the
responsibilities of a valid marriage under the law of the state in which the privilege is
9. Id. at 515.

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