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Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

United We Stand: New Jersey Proposes Unified Mental Health Services Provider Evidentiary Privilege

According to an article in the New Jersey Law Journal,

A new rule being proposed in New Jersey would create a “unified mental health service provider evidentiary privilege”—an effort to reorganize the present patchwork of privileges that offer varying degrees of protection to different professionals.

The  Supreme Court Committee on the Rules of Evidence released the draft proposal on Wednesday and asked for comments by June 2.

The draft, modeled on Rule 503 of the Uniform Rules of Evidence Act, lists specific professionals who would be covered by the unified privilege.   

The proposed rule can be found here. Under the rule,

(2) “Mental-health service provider” means a person authorized or reasonably believed by the patient to be authorized to engage in the diagnosis or treatment of a mental or emotional condition, and is specifically intended to apply to:

(i) Psychologists, consistent with the definition under N.J.R.E. 505 and N.J.S.A. 45:14B-2(a), "licensed practicing psychologist," and N.J.S.A. 45:14B- 6(a)(1), (b), (d), (d), (e), (f), and (g), governing persons engaged in authorized activities of certain unlicensed practicing psychologists;

(ii) Physicians, including psychiatrists, consistent with the definition under N.J.R.E. 506 and N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.1(b);

(iii) Marriage and family therapists, consistent with the definition under N.J.R.E. 510 and N.J.S.A. 45:8B-2(a);

(iv) Victim counselors, consistent with the definition under N.J.R.E. 517(b) and N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-22.14(e);

(v) Social workers, consistent with the definition under N.J.R.E. 518 and N.J.S.A. 45:15BB-3, and including social work interns and certified school social worker as defined in N.J.S.A. 45:15BB-5(b) and (c); 

(vi) Alcohol and drug counselors, consistent with the definitions under N.J.S.A. 45:2D-3 and N.J.A.C. 13:34C-4.5 (licensed and certified Alcohol and drug counselors);

(vii) Nurses, consistent with the definition under N.J.S.A. 45:11-23;

(viii) Professional counselors, consistent with the definition under N.J.S.A. 45:8B-48;

(ix) Psychoanalysts, consistent with the definition under N.J.S.A. 14BB-3. 

According to the article,

The draft rule is the outcome of a process that began in 2010, when the  Privileges Subcommittee issued a report finding “little apparent justification for treating a patient’s communications with one mental health professional differently from communications with a different mental health professional.”  

-CM

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