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State v. Betony

State v. Betony, 2021 UT App 15 (Orme, J.)

Criminal Law; Evidence

Defendant appealed his multiple convictions for aggravated sexual abuse, arguing that the court applied the wrong legal standard in excluding as privileged certain mental health records belonging to one of the alleged victims. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed:

  • Although the trial court did apply an incorrect standard for materiality in reviewing the medical records, it applied a lower standard than it should have, yet concluded that the records were not material even under this more lenient standard. In any event, the court of appeals independently assessed the existence of privilege as a question of law and determined that the records were not material.
  • Note: In arguing that an exception to privilege for medical records applies under Utah R. 506(d)(1)(A),a defendant must show “with reasonable certainty” that the records “actually contain exculpatory evidence which would be favorable to his defense.” But the court of appeals clarified that this “reasonable certainty test is not . . . stringent in terms of how exculpatory or material the information within the requested records must be.” In contrast, when the trial court conducts an in camera review of the records for materiality, the proper standard is “a higher standard of materiality than the one applied at the reasonable certainty stage.”

Read the full court opinion

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