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People v. Doe

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 30, 1981.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF AND PETITIONER-APPELLEE,

v.

JOHN DOE, DEFENDANT. — (ELAINE MCCALL, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.)



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. SIMON L. FRIEDMAN, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE GREEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied January 28, 1982.

This appeal is from a judgment of the circuit court of Sangamon County entered on June 13, 1981, finding respondent, Elaine McCall, a psychiatric therapist, in contempt of court for refusing to answer a question before a Sangamon County grand jury and fining her $250. At all times she has claimed the answer privileged from disclosure by the terms of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 91 1/2, par. 801 et seq.). We hold the privilege not to be applicable and affirm.

The evidence upon which the contempt finding was made was substantially undisputed. Appearing first before the grand jury on May 14, 1981, respondent testified she had previously talked with law enforcement officers about a drawing, appearing in a local newspaper, purporting to be a composite sketch of a person suspected of an ax murder which had been committed in a hardware store. Claiming statutory privilege, she refused to state whether she had seen anyone resembling the figure in the drawing. On May 21, 1981, the circuit court entered a rule upon her to show cause why she should not be held in contempt for refusing to answer the question.

A hearing was held on the rule on June 9, 1981. Bobby Joe Kyle, a patient at the St. John's psychiatric unit where respondent worked, testified that he overheard a conversation in which one patient stated to another that he had committed murder at a hardware store. Kyle stated he did not know the name of the person making the statement. A Springfield police officer then testified to having spoken with Kyle, in respondent's presence, about the foregoing conversation. The officer stated respondent (1) indicated the patient alleged to have made the statement resembled the person in the composite drawing, (2) indicated the patient had been admitted after the ax murders, and (3) refused to give further information about the patient. Respondent testified the composite drawing would have meant nothing to her except for the conversation with Kyle and the patient alleged to have made the statement having been in the psychiatric unit.

The trial court ordered respondent to answer the specific question as to the name of the person resembling the one in the drawing. The court also stated respondent would be subject to being held in contempt if she refused to answer. Nevertheless, she still refused to name the individual when she returned to the grand jury on June 11, 1981. She admitted she had seen a person matching the one in the drawing but refused to answer the question, "What is the individual's name?" Later that day she was taken before the circuit court where she affirmed she had refused to answer the question and still refused to do so. The court then held her in contempt and imposed the fine of $250.

Section 3(a) of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 91 1/2, par. 803(a)) states:

"All records and communications shall be confidential and shall not be disclosed except as provided in this Act."

Section 10(a) of that Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 91 1/2, par. 810(a)) states:

"Except as provided herein, in any civil, criminal, administrative, or legislative proceeding, or in any proceeding preliminary thereto, a recipient, and a therapist on behalf and in the interest of a recipient, has the privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent the disclosure of the recipient's record or communications."

Section 2 of the Act defines the terms "communications," "recipients," and "record" as follows:

"The terms used in this Act, unless the context requires otherwise, have the meanings ascribed to them in this Section.

(1) `Confidential communication' or `communication' means any communication made by a recipient or other person to a therapist or to or in the presence of other persons during or in connection with providing mental health or developmental disability services to a recipient. ...


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