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Name: N.S. v. Superior Court
Case #: A148694
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 12/16/2016
Summary

Nonminor dependent did not waive psychotherapist-patient privilege by offering letter from therapist in support of continuation of dependency status. N.S. was a nonminor dependent of the juvenile court. The Agency moved for dismissal of the dependency action because N.S. had not participated in services or maintained contact with the Agency. At a contested hearing, N.S.’s therapist was called to testify about a letter she wrote stating that N.S. had a diagnosis that kept her from participating in services. When asked about the diagnosis, the therapist asserted the psychotherapist-patient privilege. The juvenile court ordered her to testify because N.S. had put her mental state at issue. N.S. sought a writ of mandate or prohibition prohibiting any inquiry concerning the psychotherapist’s confidential communications with N.S. The appellate court granted the petition. N.S.’s testimony in response to the Agency’s questioning cannot be properly construed to mean she herself had tendered the issue of her mental state. Nor did she waive the psychotherapist-patient privilege by seeking to admit the letter. The letter was admitted to provide the documentation required for purposes of the statute. It did not waive the psychotherapist privilege as to confidential communications with the therapist, including her diagnosis.