Nevada psychologist’s patient records ruled privileged
Reversing a district court order, the Nevada Supreme Court has ruled a psychologist’s records in a sex trafficking case are privileged and confidential.
The opinion centers around charges including kidnapping, sex trafficking of a child under 16 and living off the earnings of a prostitute against Johnny Le Andrew Hudson.
The girl was arrested on prostitution charges and placed on probation through juvenile court. Based on her statements to police, Hudson was arrested and charged.
His lawyers demanded access to the records of psychologist Shera Bradley’s counseling records with the teen-aged girl during pre-trial discovery and District Judge Douglas Herndon of Las Vegas agreed, ordering Bradley to produce the records for him to review behind closed doors before deciding whether to provide them to the defense.
Hudson’s legal team argued those records must be produced because the girl’s counseling was court ordered and paid for by the state. They also argued the material are part of the investigative evidence in the case. They also argued Hudson is entitled to confront his accuser under the U.S. Constitution.
Bradley appealed arguing the counseling records can’t be a part of discovery in a case because they’re privileged and disclosing them would jeopardize the open, private communications between therapist and patient. She also said those records were solely limited to treating the girl and had nothing to do with investigative work.
The high court panel of Lidia Stiglich, Ron Parraguirre and Jim Hardesty agreed with Bradley, ruling under Nevada law, those records are confidential and privileged even if Bradley was being paid by the state. They ruled Hudson isn’t entitled to those records in pre-trial discovery and the right to confront one’s accuser is a trial right, not a pre-trial right.
The opinion adds since Hudson hasn’t provided any information those records might contain relevant information to his case, it’s doubtful Bradley’s records would support a confrontation clause argument during trial.
The panel granted Bradley’s petition reversing the district court order and barring the district court from demanding production of those counseling records.