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IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF FLORIDA, SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT
IN AND FOR FLAGLER, PUTNAM, ST. JOHNS AND VOLUSIA COUNTIES


RE: Sealing Confidential Portions Of Court Files In Baker Act Proceedings     
REF: PB-2011-011-SC (Rescinds PB-2000-011-SC)

WHEREAS, § 394.4615, Florida Statutes, provides that a clinical record of a patient treated pursuant to the Baker Act is confidential and exempt from the provisions of § 119.07(1), Florida Statutes relating to public records, and

WHEREAS, § 394.455(3), Florida Statutes, defines “clinical record” as all parts of the record required to be maintained and includes all medical records, progress notes, charts, and admission and discharge data, and all other information recorded by a facility which pertains to the patient’s hospitalization and treatment, and

WHEREAS, § 394.467(2), Florida Statutes, provides that a patient may be retained by a receiving facility or involuntarily placed in a treatment facility upon the recommendation of the administrator of the receiving facility where the patient has been examined and after adherence to the notice and hearing procedures provided for in § 394.4599,Florida Statutes, and

WHEREAS, such recommendations must be supported by the opinion of a psychiatrist and the second opinion of a clinical psychologist or another psychiatrist that the criteria for involuntary placement are met, and

WHEREAS, these recommendations are part of the patient’s clinical record and become part of the court file, and

WHEREAS, during hearings required for involuntary placement, the clerk routinely transcribes portions of the testimony, including information contained in the clinical record, on the hearing sheets which are made part of the court file, and

WHEREAS, hearings required for involuntary placement, including information contained in the clinical record, are reported/recorded and sometimes transcribed, and

WHEREAS, § 394.467(6)(a)2, Florida Statutes, provides that reports of any independent experts who examine the patient shall be confidential;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM A. PARSONS, Chief Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit, hereby order as follows:

1. The Clerk of Court shall seal the following portions of a court file in a Baker Act proceeding:

  1. The clinical record or chart of the patient, or any portion thereof which is made a part of the court file;
  2. The report of any expert examiner appointed by the Court to examine the patient, or of any expert who examines the patient at the patient’s request;
  3. The clerk’s notes with respect to any hearing regarding the involuntary placement of the patient or matters pertaining thereto;
  4. Any transcript or portion of any transcript of proceedings which is contained in the court file.

2. Unless specifically ordered to do so, the Clerk of Court shall not seal the ex parte order for involuntary examination or any subsequent order, including but not limited to, orders requiring involuntary placement of a patient in a receiving or treatment facility and order for discharge from involuntary treatment.

3. Any clerk or court administration employee or contractor who records/reports any hearing held pursuant to the Baker Act shall treat verbatim records of the proceedings as confidential and shall only disclose or provide transcripts, recordings or notes of the proceedings to the patient, the patient’s guardian, the patient’s attorney, or upon order of the Court.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Administrative Order PB-2000-011-SC is hereby rescinded.

TO BE RECORDED in Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia counties.

DONE AND ORDERED in Daytona Beach, Volusia County, FL this 19th day of September 2011.

/s/ William A. Parsons
Judge William A. Parsons
Chief Judge