United States v. Hayes

227 F.3d 578 (2000)

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United States v. Hayes

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
227 F.3d 578 (2000)

  • Written by Nicole Gray , JD

Facts

A grand jury, on behalf of the United States (plaintiff), indicted Roy Lee Hayes (defendant) on charges of threatening to murder a federal official. The indictment was based on a complaint filed by the United States Postal Inspector, who learned that Hayes threatened to kill his boss in several psychotherapy sessions. The first time Hayes made the threats, a psychotherapist warned Hayes that he would not be able to keep the threats secret. However, that therapist did not warn Hayes’s boss because Hayes assured the therapist that his urges were under control because he valued his job. Hayes was prescribed medication but continued to express homicidal ideation towards his boss, including during a period of voluntary commitment. Hayes’s threats persisted, but Hayes started showing less control over his urges, prompting one of Hayes’s psychotherapists to warn Hayes’s boss of the threats. Hayes’s boss then informed the postal inspector, who requested Hayes’s medical records and filed a complaint that led to Hayes’s indictment. Because the grand jury based its indictment on the remarks made to Hayes’s psychotherapists, Hayes filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, claiming that the information that formed its basis was protected by psychotherapist-patient privilege. A United States district court granted Hayes’s motion, finding that the information was privileged because Hayes’s psychotherapists had only disclosed the information to avert harm and the pyshcotherapists’ testimony was not the only means preventing harm to Hayes’s boss. The district court dismissed the case, and the government appealed, arguing that a dangerous-patient exception should be made.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ryan, J.)

Dissent (Boggs, J.)

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