Wednesday, December 18, 2013

People v. Sergio case brief

People v. Sergio case brief summary
864 N.Y.S.2d 264 (2008)

Defendant was charged with, inter alia, murder in the second degree (Penal Law § 125.25(4)) for causing the death of her newborn baby girl. Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing, inter alia, that the prosecution improperly used privileged physician-patient communications (CPLR 4504(a)) in the grand jury proceedings and to obtain a search warrant.


  • Evidence of reports made pursuant to Social Services Law § 415 was admissible in criminal prosecutions where the defendant's statement triggered the requirement to report even where the child was not the patient being treated. 
  • Here, the limited information about defendant's having recently given birth and her missing baby was within the appropriate confines of the Social Services Law exception concerning information relating to reports of suspected child abuse or maltreatment. 
  • This limited information was required to be immediately disclosed under § 415, and was also subject to being used in subsequent criminal proceedings relating to possible abuse or maltreatment of the child. 
  • Furthermore, there was a common law obligation recognized by the Tarasoff exception for the hospital to make whatever disclosures would be necessary to determine if the life of defendant's newborn baby was in danger. 
  • Because the information concerning the defendant's medical condition was properly disclosed to the police pursuant to the Social Services Law and the Tarasoff exception, inclusion of this information by the police in the application for the search warrant did not violate the privilege.

Defendant's motion to dismiss the indictment was denied in its entirety.

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