Why am I being subpoenaed as a witness for the defendant in a case in which I am the counselor of the plaintiff?

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Why am I being subpoenaed as a witness for the defendant in a case in which I am the counselor of the plaintiff?

I am a mental health counselor and have been seeing this client, who is the plaintiff, for several years. I am now being subpoenaed to appear in court as a witness on behalf of the defendant and am being ordered to bring the therapy records with me. I have never been subpoenaed so I dont know what is expected from me, what should I expect to happen that day in court, and if I need to I hire a lawyer to go with me.

Asked on July 14, 2018 under Criminal Law, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You are being subpoenaed because they believe you have information or documentation helpful to them. You have to go and testify, but you are not required to violate the patient-doctor privilege, assuming that the nature of the counseling you did and the nature of your role allows for the application of that privilege in the first place. If the privilege applies, you can refuse to testify about any specific item covered by the privilege, but cannot globally refuse to testify and must testify about any fact not covered by the privilege. Even though the plaintiff should have been advised that you were subpoenaed, a good idea would be to advise him (or his attorney, if he has one) that you received the subpoean, so the plaintiff can be prepared to raise objections.


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