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  • Key Points for Presentation Privilege is a legal right owned by victim, protected by qualified advocates – different from confidentiality What constitutes a qualified advocate and who doesn’t qualify Dual Roles – gray area Waivers – Intentional waivers should be written and limited; Accidental waivers – be careful of third party and dual role situation which may waive privilege Mandatory reporting is mandatory – meaning not at all optional
  • Priv1.16.08

    1. 1. Understanding Privilege for Victim Advocates Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance COVA Christine R. Harms MS Training Coordinator
    2. 2. Topics Covered <ul><li>Legal Privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Waivers of Privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Exceptions to Privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Policies and Procedures </li></ul><ul><li>The Importance of Legal Counsel </li></ul>
    3. 3. What This Training Cannot Do For You <ul><li>Provide legal advice </li></ul><ul><li>Make you an expert in these issues </li></ul><ul><li>Develop your agency policy </li></ul><ul><li>Mandate changes in agency practice </li></ul>
    4. 4. Legal Disclaimer <ul><li>This is a brief review of Colorado law and practice related to crime victim privilege and confidentiality </li></ul><ul><li>The training is not meant to be used as a definitive statement of law or a particular statute </li></ul><ul><li>Contact your attorney for all legal questions you may have </li></ul>
    5. 5. Privilege vs. Confidentiality <ul><li>Are privilege and confidentiality the same thing? </li></ul><ul><li>Does confidentiality come with legal obligations? </li></ul><ul><li>Does privilege come with legal obligations? </li></ul>
    6. 6. Confidentiality <ul><li>Advocates have a professional duty to refrain from speaking to others about certain matters </li></ul><ul><li>Not clearly defined and often used incorrectly </li></ul><ul><li>Advocates should keep information confidential unless the situation warrants otherwise: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mandatory Reporting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Safety </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to Know </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Privilege <ul><li>Created by statute (law) </li></ul><ul><li>Protects certain communications </li></ul><ul><li>Addresses who cannot be compelled to testify in court </li></ul>
    8. 8. Legal Privilege <ul><li>Do victims or advocates have privilege? </li></ul><ul><li>Do all victims have privilege? </li></ul><ul><li>Can all advocates protect privilege? </li></ul><ul><li>What is discovery and how is it relevant to privilege? </li></ul>
    9. 9. Colorado Statutory Privilege (C.R.S. § 13-90-107) <ul><li>Statutory Protection - who may not testify without consent </li></ul><ul><li>Domestic violence and sexual assault victim advocates added to law in 1994 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Without the victim’s consent, a victim’s advocate shall not be examined as to any communication made to such victim advocate by a victim of domestic violence…, or a victim of sexual assault.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Victims hold the privilege – Advocates protect the privilege </li></ul>
    10. 10. Who Qualifies <ul><li>Advocates with legal ability to protect privilege are defined as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a person at a battered women’s shelter or rape crisis organization or a comparable community-based advocacy program for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault and does not include an advocate employed by any law enforcement agency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But those aren’t the only requirements… </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Who Qualifies <ul><li>A victim advocate must also be a person: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Whose primary function is to assist victims of domestic violence or sexual assault </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who has undergone at least 30 hours of training for sexual assault advocates and at least 15 hours of training for domestic violence advocates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who supervises a program, administers a program, or is supervised by someone in a program </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Document Your Training <ul><li>Be able to prove you’ve had appropriate training (not specified in law) </li></ul><ul><li>Clearly document all training </li></ul><ul><li>Agency policies defining curriculum and documentation procedures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Agency letter signed by supervisor certifying training topics and hours </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. What Privilege Applies To <ul><li>Privilege applies to spoken and written communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Conversations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Notes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reports </li></ul></ul><ul><li>These items are not typically subject to discovery – however a judge can order otherwise </li></ul>
    14. 14. Law Offers Strong Protection <ul><li>Geared to prevent defense attorney “fishing expeditions” </li></ul><ul><li>Good legislative history </li></ul><ul><li>Good case law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>People v. Turner , 109 P.3d 639 (Colo. 2005) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No in camera review </li></ul>
    15. 15. People v. Turner <ul><li>” “We hold that the victim-advocate privilege attaches to records of assistance provided by the victim advocate because those records are a part of ‘any communication’ made to such advocate by the victim of domestic violence.” </li></ul>
    16. 16. People v. Turner <ul><li>“ We conclude that the underlying purpose of the victim-advocate privilege and the plain language of the statute forbid the disclosure of records or reports of assistance provided the victim by the Alliance in this case. We recognize that the strong public policy underlying the statute requires that the records of assistance or services offered to victims be kept confidential. To interpret the statute otherwise would betray that clear intent.” </li></ul>
    17. 17. Who Cannot Protect Privilege? <ul><li>Law enforcement advocates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Attorney General’s Office, DA’s Offices, City Attorney’s Offices, Sheriffs, Police, State Patrol and Marshals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Community-based advocates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Working with non-DV or SA crime victims </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Without appropriate training </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Crime victims other than DV and SA </li></ul>
    18. 18. Why All Advocates Cannot Protect Privilege <ul><li>Discovery – defendants are constitutionally entitled to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Any and all evidence favorable to the defendant and suggests innocence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any and all evidence of “material importance” to the defendant – meaning evidence which, when examined in light of the entire record, likely would affect the trial’s outcome </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. What This Means <ul><li>Conversations, notes, records and reports of advocates who don’t qualify to protect privilege may be discoverable in an investigation and subsequent court case </li></ul>
    20. 20. Note-taking for All Advocates <ul><li>Assume the worst – the defense will see your notes </li></ul><ul><li>Use objective, not subjective, language </li></ul><ul><li>Stick to the facts </li></ul>
    21. 21. Dual Roles <ul><li>What are dual roles? </li></ul><ul><li>Can advocates operating in dual roles protect a victim’s privilege? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there law or precedent for advocates operating in dual roles? </li></ul><ul><li>Is this ever a good idea? </li></ul>
    22. 22. Addressing Dual Roles <ul><li>This is an unclear area of the law </li></ul><ul><li>In dual role situations it is most likely that privilege will be compromised </li></ul><ul><li>The best solution is to have no dual agency or advocate roles </li></ul>
    23. 23. Addressing Dual Roles <ul><li>Ensure everyone has clarity about the different roles in any given intervention situation </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of clarity can irreparably harm victims </li></ul><ul><li>If your agency works in dual roles it is always best to have WRITTEN AGREEMENTS about the differing roles </li></ul>
    24. 24. Addressing Dual Roles <ul><li>Generally, without written agreements and policies, your roles are determined by four things: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What agency are you representing? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What your role is in relation to the victim? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who pays your salary? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who provides your supervision? </li></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Addressing Dual Roles <ul><li>If your agency operates in dual roles, never have the same advocate operate in both capacities with the same victim </li></ul><ul><li>Different advocates for each role </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Law enforcement only advocates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community based only advocates </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Advocate must clarify their role with each victim and document that clarification </li></ul><ul><li>This may not ensure privilege </li></ul>
    26. 26. Dual Roles and Discovery <ul><li>Caution – You should assume that the conversations, notes, records and reports of a community-based victim advocate working under contract or memorandum of understanding (MOU) for law enforcement are discoverable </li></ul>
    27. 27. Some Privilege Examples <ul><li>Columbine – no privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Denver Center for Crime Victims – advocate privilege by registering as unlicensed therapists </li></ul><ul><li>DVERT – Lopez case (dual roles) </li></ul>
    28. 28. Legal Privilege – Important Points to Remember <ul><li>DV and SA victims hold the privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Only victim advocates who meet specific statutory criteria can protect privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware of discovery – particularly when taking notes </li></ul><ul><li>Dual roles are a gray area – assume the worst </li></ul>
    29. 29. Waivers of Privilege <ul><li>Can privilege be waived? </li></ul><ul><li>When is it appropriate to waive privilege? </li></ul><ul><li>How should privilege waivers be handled? </li></ul><ul><li>What constitutes an accidental waiver? </li></ul>
    30. 30. Waivers of Privilege <ul><li>Waiver: giving up part or all of one’s right to privileged communication </li></ul><ul><li>Privilege can be waived only by victim </li></ul><ul><li>Waivers should be done through a written release </li></ul>
    31. 31. Proper Waiver Procedures <ul><li>Authorization to Release Information: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Must be in writing, signed & dated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should be time limited </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should specifically identify to whom the information is being released </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Should specifically identify what information is being released </li></ul></ul>
    32. 32. Critical Issues About Waiving Privilege <ul><li>A victim should never disclose privileged information or sign a release assuming only law enforcement or the prosecutor will see the information </li></ul><ul><li>Assume that any information released to any criminal justice system employee will be discoverable by the defendant </li></ul>
    33. 33. Accidental Waivers or Violations of Privilege <ul><li>Victim contact with defense </li></ul><ul><li>Third party conversations </li></ul><ul><li>Medical exams </li></ul><ul><li>Other situations – be wary </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dual Roles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hallway conversations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media </li></ul></ul>
    34. 34. Victim Contact with Defense <ul><li>Victims are not required to have any contact with the defense attorney except in court </li></ul><ul><li>Defense investigators represent defendant’s best interests – not the victim’s </li></ul><ul><li>Important that victims require identification/ clarification before talking to anyone about their case </li></ul><ul><li>Advocates need to advise victims about risk </li></ul>
    35. 35. Presence of Third Parties During Conversations <ul><li>May inadvertently waive privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Advocate who can protect privilege and a system-based advocate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not privileged </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Two persons who can protect privilege </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Probably privileged but not certain </li></ul></ul>
    36. 36. Presence of Third Parties During Conversations <ul><li>Parents with minors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only privileged in some circumstances </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privileged when parent & minor are in the presence of: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Attorney representing the child </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Physician or mental health professional who has confidential relationship with child </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Clergy with confidential relationship </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Victim advocates are not covered </li></ul></ul>
    37. 37. Medical Issues <ul><li>Be aware of who is in the examining room </li></ul><ul><li>Medical vs. forensic exam </li></ul><ul><li>Two persons who can protect privilege </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Probably privileged </li></ul></ul>
    38. 38. Privilege Waivers – Important Points to Remember <ul><li>Waivers can only be granted by the victim – it’s their decision </li></ul><ul><li>Waivers must be written & limited </li></ul><ul><li>Assume that any information given to law enforcement will be given to the defendant </li></ul><ul><li>Privilege can be accidentally waived – be careful </li></ul>
    39. 39. Exceptions to Privilege <ul><li>Is privilege absolute or are there exceptions? </li></ul><ul><li>Do victim advocates have to report child abuse in all cases? Are there penalties for failure to report? </li></ul><ul><li>Are criminal justice records private or open? </li></ul><ul><li>Are victim compensation records private or open? </li></ul>
    40. 40. Important Privilege Exceptions <ul><li>Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Victim advocates are required to report </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Child” is person under 18 years old </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Criminal Justice Records </li></ul><ul><li>Victim Compensation Records </li></ul>
    41. 41. Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse or Neglect C.R.S § 19-3-304 <ul><li>Test for mandatory reporting: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Any specified person “who has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect, or … </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Who has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ Shall immediately report or cause a report to be made.” </li></ul>
    42. 42. Definition of Child Abuse or Neglect C.R.S § 19-1-103 <ul><li>Includes, among other things: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical abuse, malnutrition, or conditions not justifiably explained </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Any case in which a child is subjected to sexual assault or molestation, sexual exploitation, or prostitution.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“Any case in which a child is subject to emotional abuse.” </li></ul></ul>
    43. 43. Where to Make the Report <ul><li>Reports made to law enforcement or DSS, depending on type of abuse </li></ul><ul><li>General rule: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intra-familial abuse or neglect to county DSS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 rd party abuse or neglect to law enforcement </li></ul></ul>
    44. 44. Mandatory Reporters <ul><li>Failure to report may result in: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Criminal prosecution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Civil liability for damages </li></ul></ul>
    45. 45. Immunity from Liability C.R.S § 19-3-309 <ul><li>Good faith is presumed for mandatory reporters </li></ul><ul><li>Any person, except the perpetrator, who makes a report in good faith is immune from liability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Courts must find willful, wanton or malicious behavior to overcome immunity </li></ul></ul>
    46. 46. Advocate Responsibilities as a Mandatory Reporter <ul><li>Inform clients you are a mandatory reporter </li></ul><ul><li>It is not your responsibility to investigate or determine abuse or risk of potential harm </li></ul><ul><li>Immediate reporting means immediately </li></ul><ul><li>You are responsible for making a report even if the client self reports </li></ul>
    47. 47. Criminal Justice Records C.R.S § 24-72-304 <ul><li>Inspection of criminal justice records </li></ul><ul><ul><li>General Rule: criminal justice records open to inspection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Important exception: name of a victim of a sexual assault or an alleged sexual assault </li></ul></ul>
    48. 48. Criminal Justice Records C.R.S § 24-72-304 <ul><li>Name of any sexual assault victim must be deleted from any criminal justice record prior to release to any individual or agency other than a criminal justice agency </li></ul><ul><li>Does not limit victim or victim’s family’s ability to view pre-sentence report, at DA’s discretion </li></ul>
    49. 49. Victim Compensation Records C.R.S § 24-4.1-107.5 <ul><li>Victim compensation records are legally considered confidential, but are subject to in camera review </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware – the court can review the record and decide the material is necessary to the case, thus making it discoverable </li></ul>
    50. 50. Privilege Exceptions – Important Points to Remember <ul><li>Mandatory reporting of child abuse is an absolute exception to privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Reports must be made immediately upon knowing or suspecting </li></ul><ul><li>Advocates must inform victims about reporting requirements in advance </li></ul><ul><li>Criminal justice records are open records – except for name of sexual assault victims </li></ul><ul><li>Victim compensation records are subject to in camera review </li></ul>
    51. 51. Policies and Procedures <ul><li>Does your agency provide education and awareness regarding privilege and confidentiality? </li></ul><ul><li>Does your agency have written policies clearly defining roles and responsibilities? </li></ul>
    52. 52. Agency Responsibilities <ul><li>Agencies need to create an environment that ensures: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Appropriate training for all staff and volunteers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documentation of all training for staff and volunteers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Appropriate response regarding confidentiality, privilege and medical privacy issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Access to additional resources for clients and the agency when necessary </li></ul></ul>
    53. 53. Agency Responsibilities <ul><li>Establish written policies </li></ul><ul><li>Address roles and boundaries on job applications and at screening interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Clearly define staff and volunteer roles and boundaries in all agency interactions </li></ul>
    54. 54. Other Agency Options <ul><li>Some community based victim advocacy programs provide victim confidentiality through other means: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Register staff as unlicensed therapists with the Department of Regulatory Agencies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing staff with direct clinical supervision by a licensed professional (Psychologist, PhD, PsyD, or EdD; LCSW, LPC, LMFT or CNS) under whom they provide services </li></ul></ul>
    55. 55. Policies and Procedures – Important Points <ul><li>Agencies should provide appropriate information and access to training for advocates regarding privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Agencies should have written policies and procedures addressing individual training, roles, responsibilities and agency interactions </li></ul><ul><li>Agencies have some options regarding obtaining privilege for advocates </li></ul>
    56. 56. Importance of Legal Counsel <ul><li>Does your agency have an attorney? </li></ul><ul><li>Are all office personnel educated about procedures for handling a subpoena? </li></ul><ul><li>Has your agency had any conversations with the district attorney regarding victim privilege? </li></ul><ul><li>Do advocates understand the relationship between a court order and privilege? </li></ul>
    57. 57. Critical Point <ul><li>Get an attorney for your agency before this issue arises </li></ul>
    58. 58. Subpoenas <ul><li>Oh no! I’ve just been subpoenaed to testify and bring my records, what do I do? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t panic! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Document how and when the subpoena arrived </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get legal advice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Notify your agency’s attorney </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Notify the District Attorney (criminal cases) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Notify the victim </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be prepared to assert privilege on behalf of victim </li></ul></ul>
    59. 59. Asserting Privilege <ul><li>Someone needs to assert the privilege on the victim’s behalf </li></ul><ul><li>Victim advocate should be prepared to assert privilege if the DA will not </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss issue with DA prior to any specific case </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Case law supports DA standing to assert privilege </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>People v. District Court 719 P.2d 722 (Colo. 1986) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>People v. Turner, 109 P.3d 639 (Colo. 2005) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>When speaking to the DA, advocates should speak in broad terms or hypotheticals so as not to violate privilege </li></ul>
    60. 60. Court Orders <ul><li>On very rare occasions a court may order someone to testify despite the privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Important to not make any promises to the victim </li></ul><ul><li>Explain to victim: this information is privileged and cannot be disclosed unless a judge orders it disclosed </li></ul>
    61. 61. Legal Counsel – Important Points to Remember <ul><li>Have access to an attorney who understands privilege issues </li></ul><ul><li>Document receiving all subpoenas and be prepared to assert privilege on behalf of the victim </li></ul><ul><li>Court orders supercede privilege – make no promises to victims </li></ul>
    62. 62. Advocate Responsibilities Know The System <ul><li>Advocates should know and understand the criminal justice system </li></ul><ul><li>Advocates should also have a basic understanding of the civil legal system as it applies to victims (i.e. restraining orders, child custody, restitution, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing the justice system will help you be prepared for, not surprised by, unpredictability </li></ul>
    63. 63. Advocate Responsibilities Know Your Limitations <ul><li>You are not an expert in all areas of victim services </li></ul><ul><li>Seek assistance from other advocates </li></ul><ul><li>Explore options/resources </li></ul><ul><li>Know your own and your agency’s limitations </li></ul>
    64. 64. Agencies and Advocates <ul><li>Victim advocates have a responsibility to Do No Harm </li></ul><ul><li>Advocates have the responsibility to advocate for the victim and for an appropriate criminal justice system response </li></ul>
    65. 65. Contact Information <ul><li>Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1-800-261-2682; 303-861-1160 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1-888-778-7091; 303-831-9632 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1-877-372-2272; 303-861-7033 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    66. 66. Pre/Post Test <ul><li>False: Privilege and confidentiality are NOT the same thing </li></ul><ul><li>True: Victim advocates must always treat client’s information with confidentiality Except… </li></ul><ul><li>False: Only certain ones </li></ul><ul><li>False: Never </li></ul><ul><li>False: Must have specified, documented training, license or supervised by licensed </li></ul>
    67. 67. Pre/Post <ul><li>True </li></ul><ul><li>False: only victims can waive </li></ul><ul><li>True: only victims can waive </li></ul><ul><li>True </li></ul><ul><li>True </li></ul><ul><li>True: authorities will investigate </li></ul><ul><li>False: get help! </li></ul><ul><li>True </li></ul><ul><li>True </li></ul>
    68. 68. Thank you for the work that you do and for attending this training! COVA Chris Harms [email_address]