SC: Def’s treating psychiatrist’s opinion was not subject to suppression when he puts his mental capacity in issue

When defendant put his mental capacity in issue, his treating psychiatrist was a material witness. It did not violate the Fourth Amendment to obtain her records. There was no motion to suppress anything other than her opinion, not the records themselves. State v. Simpson, 2019 S.C. App. LEXIS 12 (Jan. 24, 2019):

3. Fourth Amendment

Simpson argues the trial court erred in admitting Dr. Smith’s testimony because it was based on evidence obtained as a result of an unlawful seizure under the Fourth Amendment. We disagree.

The Fourth Amendment provides no remedy for a violation of the warrant requirement, but the United States Supreme Court fashioned the exclusionary rule, a deterrent sanction whereby the State is barred from introducing evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Davis v. United States, 564 U.S. 229, 237 (2011). A Fourth Amendment seizure “deprives the individual of dominion over his or her person or property.” State v. Wright, 391 S.C. 436, 442, 706 S.E.2d 324, 327 (2011) (quoting Horton v. California, 496 U.S. 128, 133 (1990)). However, “if the prosecution can establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the information ultimately or inevitably would have been discovered by lawful means, … then the deterrence rationale has so little basis that the evidence should be received.” Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 431, 432 (1984).

Simpson argues Dr. Smith’s testimony should have been excluded because SLED violated her Fourth Amendment rights. The trial court declined to make a finding that Simpson’s medical records obtained by SLED were a search or seizure in violation of Simpson’s Fourth Amendment rights.

As discussed above, the State was entitled to Simpson’s medical records, and was entitled to call Dr. Smith as a reply witness. At trial, Simpson did not request, nor did the trial court conduct, a suppression hearing on her medical records. Simpson does not object to the disclosure of the information in her medical records to expert witnesses. Nor does she object to the information in her medical records being presented to the jury. Instead, Simpson seeks to suppress Dr. Smith’s opinion on the basis of her records. We find Simpson’s Fourth Amendment violation claim is not supported by the record or an appropriate claim of exclusion to Dr. Smith’s testimony.

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