Lingering Questions of a Supreme Court Decision: The Confines of the Psychotherapist-Patient Privilege
The United States Supreme Court "in light of [its] reason and experience"' has recognized a psychotherapist-patient privilege. The Court has, however, left lingering questions for the lower courts to determine regarding possible exceptions to the privilege. The lower courts have used their own reason and experience to develop exceptions to the privilege. Such exceptions include the crime-fraud exception, waiver exception, and the dangerous-patient exception. Inevitably other exceptions will follow. The Supreme Court should recognize a dangerous patient exception to the psychotherapist-patient privilege to allow a psychotherapist to testify in court when there is "a serious threat of harm to the patient or to others" and it can only be averted "by means of disclosure by" the therapist. The Court should recognize the exception because it would not impede on state confidentiality laws, it would not impede on the confidential psychotherapist-patient relationship, Congress did not dismiss this exception, and the exception is supported by public policy.
Jennifer L. Odrobina, Lingering Questions of a Supreme Court Decision: The Confines of the Psychotherapist-Patient Privilege, 52 Clev. St. L. Rev. 551 (2004-2005)
The 2004 John M. Manos Writing Competition on Evidence