Tyson v. State38 Fla. L. Weekly D1205a (Fla. 5th DCA May 31, 2013):  Before the State can employ its investigative subpoena power and compel the disclosure of medical records without the consent of the patient, the State “has the obligation and the burden to show the relevancy of the records requested.”  . . . The State’s burden arises from Tyson’s constitutional right to privacy in his medical information, which requires the State to demonstrate a compelling interest in the disclosure. . . .Such [a compelling state] interest exists where there is a reasonable founded suspicion that the materials contain information relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.

In this case, the State attempted to subpoena psychological records from a number of places where the defendant had received mental health treatment over the proceeding 17 years.  Defendant was charged with murder, but was not participating in discovery and not raising mental health as a mitigator in the penalty phase.  He objected to issuance of the medical record subpoenas, and moved to quash them.  The Florida appeals court found that the State did not present evidence to establish relevancy, finding that the medical records did not relate to any element of the charged offense. The court held that “Since there is no nexus between the criminal prosecution and Tyson’s medical records, the trial court departed from the essential requirements of law in permitting the State to subpoena all of Tyson’s medical records. To allow disclosure of non-discoverable, mental health records would cause irreparable harm from which Tyson has no adequate remedy on appeal. . . . Accordingly, we grant the petition for certiorari and quash the order that permitted the State to subpoena Tyson’s medical records.

 

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