On December 1, 1999, the plaintiffs, confined to Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center (Mid-Hudson) in New York, brought a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the Southern District of New York against hospital officials, physicians and the New York mental health commissioner. The ...
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On December 1, 1999, the plaintiffs, confined to Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center (Mid-Hudson) in New York, brought a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the Southern District of New York against hospital officials, physicians and the New York mental health commissioner. The plaintiffs, represented by Mental Hygiene Legal Service and the Special Litigation Unit of Legal Aid Society, were criminal defendants who had been found incapacitated to stand trial. In their suit, the plaintiffs alleged violations of constitutional privacy rights via disclosure of confidential psychiatric and medical information. The plaintiffs argued that the use of "Fitness Reports" by the defendant, Mid-Hudson, effectively disclosed to the public confidential information because the reports were placed in unsealed court files accessible to the general public. "Fitness Reports" typically included the following: current mental status exam, observations regarding fitness, history of dangerousness, history relevant to fitness, current treatment, DSM IV diagnosis and forensic psychiatric opinion.
On May 9, 2000, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Judge William H. Pauley III) granted class certification to all incapacitated criminal defendants confined at Mid-Hudson. Hirschfeld v. Stone, 193 F.R.D. 175 (S.D.N.Y. 2000). The court also granted the preliminary injunction requested by the plaintiffs and ordered that "Fitness Reports" could no longer be used in proceedings to determine a criminal defendant's capacity to proceed to trial. The court found that irreparable harm was caused by the disclosure of the personal information in question, and the state's interest in including personal information in reports submitted to courts and used to determine capacity was outweighed by the defendants' privacy interests.
On August 16, 2001, Judge Pauley issued a consent order stating that the plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief would remain on the Court's active calendar for one year and then be moved to the Court's inactive calendar for an additional two year period. The case was closed on February 11, 2002.Tom Madison - 01/23/2006
Priyah Kaul - 11/18/2014