A conference with the court is scheduled for this morning in Judge Donald Oda II’s courtroom in the case of Brooke Skylar Richardson. The prosecution and the defense team say they are both ready for the trial that is scheduled to begin Sept. 3.
The conference with the court, which could be held in judge’s chambers, comes a year after Richardson’s trial was continued when appeals were filed to the 12th District Court of Appeals concerning doctor-patient privilege.
In October, the appellate court sided with the Warren County Prosecutor’s Office concerning doctor-patient privilege, prompting defense attorney Charles H. Rittgers to say the issue would be appealed to the state’s highest court.
The Ohio Supreme Court last week denied to reconsider the defense’s appeal of a doctor-patient privilege issue in the case.
Richardson, now 19, is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and child endangering in death of her infant daughter. She is free on bond.
The appeals court ruled that physician-patient privilege doesn’t apply in the case and that the teen’s conversations with two doctors should be admitted as evidence in her upcoming trial.
Documents requesting the Ohio Supreme Court take the case were filed under seal, with the defense stating, “The physician-patient privilege statute exists for a specific purpose to create an atmosphere of confidentiality and to encourage patients to make a full disclosure of their conditions to their physicians without fear that those details will later become public.”
Both the defense and prosecution had appealed a split decision handed down by Warren County Common Pleas Judge Donald Oda II, just days before the trial was scheduled to begin last spring.
Oda ruled that doctor-patient privilege did not apply to anything Richardson said about burying the infant’s remains. However, Oda ruled that another conversation Richardson had with a different doctor was privileged.
Richardson’s defense team argued that all of the teen’s conversations with her doctors about her pregnancy or what may have happened afterward were protected by doctor-patient privilege.
Warren County prosecutors, however, said a conversation Richardson had with one of her doctors — that she buried the remains in the backyard, which prompted the physician to call police — is not privileged because of a doctor’s duty to report abuse, neglect or other harm to a child.
“Physician-patient privilege was waived due to application of … a statute that places a duty on persons with special relationships to minors to report suspected or known abuse or neglect, where there is reasonable cause to suspect based on facts that would cause a reasonable person in similar circumstances to suspect, that a child suffered a physical wound,” a summary of the 12th District decision states.