RI: Subpoena duces tecum was for records with no REP, so 4A warrant requirement not implicated

The subpoena for records here was reasonable, and there was no reasonable expectation of privacy in them where the court could analogize the subpoena as a search. State v. Doyle, 2020 R.I. LEXIS 65 (July 8, 2020):

As to the material obtained from McCullough, defendant’s contention that standing alone, a grand jury subpoena for the production of documents implicates the Fourth Amendment is simply wrong. Although a grand jury subpoena is not purely private action, grand juries are also “less cabined by Fourth Amendment restrictions[.]” State v. Guido, 698 A.2d 729, 733 (R.I. 1997) (citing United States v. Mara, 410 U.S. 19, 93 S. Ct. 774, 35 L. Ed. 2d 99 (1973); United States v. Dionisio, 410 U.S. 1, 93 S. Ct. 764, 35 L. Ed. 2d 67 (1973)). In Guido, we held that a defendant had no legitimate Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy in Rhode Island Hospital’s medical records relating to his emergency treatment following a near-fatal automobile collision. Id. In arriving at our decision, we noted that, while the Fourth Amendment protects against state intrusions into legitimate expectations of privacy, the expectation must be one actually held by the defendant and one that society at large would recognize as reasonable. Id. We noted the well-established principle that “[w]hen no reasonable privacy interest has been unlawfully invaded, the introduction of evidence seized is not prevented.” Id. at 734 (quoting State v. Timms, 505 A.2d 1132, 1137 (R.I. 1986)). In Guido, we held that the defendant had no legitimate expectation of privacy in the medical records at issue because the records were prepared by medical personnel for their use, to provide medical treatment to the defendant, and were not the defendant’s personal papers created or kept by him. Id. We also noted that the defendant was unable to demonstrate either ownership or possession over the documents. Id.

Similarly, in the case at bar, defendant had no legitimate expectation of privacy in the documents that society at large would recognize as reasonable. The documents produced were obtained by McCullough through her work as secretary of the Institute, and were not personal papers kept or created by defendant. In fact, it was established at trial that McCullough selected the files herself and did not turn over any privileged attorney-client material. Because defendant did not have a legitimate expectation of privacy in the materials subpoenaed, the Fourth Amendment was not implicated in this case.

Therefore, we are satisfied that the subpoena of records from McCullough was properly issued and executed, and was not done in contravention of the warrant requirement. We are also of the opinion that the documents obtained from DeRuosi, Prout, and McCullough were voluntarily produced.

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