In 2012, I’m driving into Ithaca, NY, aiming to enjoy the annual June festival when flashing lights in my rear view mirror catch my eye. Of course I pull over as I wonder why. The police officer asks me to get out of my jeep Liberty as he tells me there is a warrant out for my arrest. My license plate, CRYBABE alerted the policeman’s computer as he drove up behind me.
In broad daylight I’m cuffed with my hands in front of me, instead of around my back as he says, “You’re obviously not dangerous.” I’m a psychotherapist who refused the Seneca County court judge’s order to release my psychotherapy notes in a child custody case. It’s against my professional ethics, although the child custody lawyer says no one has ever refused her medical records. I had already submitted a report to the court, which was not accepted as sufficient.
That evening, my oldest daughter picks me up from jail after I am finger printed and pay $500 bail by credit card. I tell her, “I’m surprised how calm I felt as I was driven to the border of two counties; transferred twice, still in cuffs. Must be all my tears have given me courage to trust in myself. That I’ll be safe.”
Within a few days, I call the local journalist-reporter of Seneca County who later interviews me, my lawyer, and the child custody lawyer. I’m so pleased that his article is published in the Ithaca Journal and other county newspapers the week of Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, with a photo of his face enlarged above my ‘story.’
I never pay the remaining court-ordered $500 plus fine – no one comes after it. Or me:)
A few months later, following another refusal by me to give up another client’s psychotherapy notes in Tompkins County court – I’m dismissed by an angry judge; the recording of my previous testimony in the court room told to be disregarded. As I walked out into the sunlight, I felt empowered: as if the sun emblazoned my truth – and that of my profession – which is essential to building trust with clients.
Within one year, the new release of medical records permission form was changed to say: “(except psychotherapy notes)”.
Addendum: By breaking the law, truer justice EVOLves. I feel proud.