New Connecticut law restricts access to privileged records

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An amendment to Connecticut open record laws now allows state agencies to refuse to release records which are covered by a legal confidentiality privilege, regardless of whether such a privilege existed when the materials were created. For example, agencies may refuse to release records containing communications which are protected from disclosure by the doctor-patient or therapist-patient privileges.

Previously, Exemption 10 to the Connecticut open records law allowed agencies to withhold, among other things, records which are covered by only one privilege: the one between attorneys and their clients. The amendment expands this language to include records which fall under other privileges, such as those existing between doctor-patient and therapist-patient. However, the amendment also exempts records covered by “any other privilege established by the common law or the general statutes,” and even those “made prior to the establishment of the applicable privilege.”

“It’s an avalanche on historical study,” said Matthew Warshauer, Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University and co-chair of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission.“Every historian will not gain access to certain information because of that amendment because it’s so broadly worded. It will hit every social historian, religious historian, legal historian, medical historian.”...

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