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People v. Phipps

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 27, 1979.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

WILLIAM PHIPPS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Logan County; the Hon. WILLIAM M. ROBERTS, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

• 1 Can the State appeal an order directing the disclosure of personal files and information about some of the prosecution's witnesses prior to a trial on the merits?

No.

The trial court held that any witness who invoked his privilege of confidentiality under the mental health statute was barred from testifying in this prosecution.

This is not ripe for appeal. Why not? Let us see.

Defendant was charged with cruelty to persons (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 23, par. 2368), maltreatment of a mentally retarded person (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 91 1/2, par. 15-1), and battery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 12-3(a)(1)), all offenses having occurred while defendant was an employee of the Lincoln Developmental Center.

He filed a pretrial motion for discovery which requested, inter alia, the names and addresses of all persons to be called as witnesses by the State. The State's answer listed 20 witnesses that it intended to call.

Then defendant filed a motion for additional discovery which asserted that seven witnesses listed in the State's answer were residents of the Lincoln Developmental Center, that the State maintained personal files on these individuals, and that the files contained mental evaluations, intelligence quotients, statements concerning the truth and veracity of the witnesses, and other unknown information which concerned the proposed witnesses. It was requested that the State furnish defendant with a copy of these files. This motion was granted by the trial court.

The State asked the court to reconsider its order of discovery, asserting that the requested material was in the control of the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. The agency had informed the prosecution that the files were not available because they were confidential under the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1978 Supp., ch. 91 1/2, par. 801 et seq.).

The trial court entered an order stating that the Mental Health Code did not forbid the production of the material, but, rather, gave the patient or his therapist a privilege to prevent disclosure. The court said that any witnesses who invoked the privilege, or on whose behalf it was invoked, would not be permitted to testify. Those who complied with the discovery order could testify.

The State appeals, claiming that the trial court's order was erroneous. Defendant, while addressing the merits, also questions the appealability of the order in question.

Upon close scrutiny of the issue of appealability, we find that we need not address the merits of this appeal. We have no jurisdiction.

Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) provides:

"(a) Appeals by the State.

(1) When State May Appeal. In criminal cases the State may appeal only from an order or judgment the substantive effect of which results in dismissing a charge for any of the grounds enumerated in section 114-1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963; arresting judgment because of a defective indictment, information or complaint; ...


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