Jaffee v. Redmond

518 U.S. 1 (1996)

Facts

Redmond (D), a police officer, shot and killed Ricky Allen in the line of duty. D received extensive counseling from a licensed clinical social worker after the traumatic incident. The estate of Ricky Allen sued D and the Village of Hoffman Estates for the death of Ricky. The incident was sparked by D's response to an emergency call for a stabbing. When D arrived at the scene, she was met by two of Allen's sisters who indicated a stabbing had taken place. D got out of her car and then was met by several men running from the apartment complex, one waving a pipe. The men ignored D's order to get on the ground, and D drew her revolver. Two other men burst out of the building, one brandishing a butcher knife (alleged to be Ricky Allen by D). D's order to drop the weapon was ignored, and D shot Allen under the belief that he was going to stab the man he was chasing. Allen died at the scene. P sued D for a violation of Allen's constitutional rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983 for the use of excessive force. In pretrial discovery, P learned that D had about 50 counseling sessions with Karen Beyer, a clinical social worker and P sought access to Beyer's notes. D asserted the psychotherapist-patient privilege. The judge rejected that privilege. Neither Beyer nor D complied with the order to disclose the notes. The judge issued a charge to the jury that the contents of the notes must be deemed to be unfavorable to D. The jury gave the verdict to P. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.