Psychologist/psychiatrist-patient privilege extends to communications with entire facility, and attorney-client privilege covers notes a client takes at direction of attorney.
In a discovery response, the defendant asserted that she sought counseling related to the incident giving rise to the case. The plaintiff followed up with a request that she give the name and relevant information for her treatment. Because all therapy was conducted in a facility operated by a licensed psychologist, all communications with the entire team were privileged. That included those sessions where therapy was given by a licensed clinical social worker (that is, not a psychologist). The court noted that a psychologist/psychiatrist-patient privilege enjoys the same scope as the attorney-client privilege and reiterated the settled principle that all communications with an agent of the professional, such as an attorney’s paralegal or a psychologist’s staff member—regardless of title—are protected. In addition, the court ruled on the attorney-client privilege, concluding that handwritten notes taken by the client during a criminal trial and during proceedings in the civil matter, at his lawyer’s behest, and which were given to the lawyer so that the lawyer can help defend the client in the suit, are absolutely privileged.
Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2017. Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2017 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.