Colorado v. KelleyAnnotate this Case
Defendant Noelle Kelley was taken by ambulance to the hospital after she was involved in a car accident in which another person was injured. At the hospital, an officer investigating the accident asked Kelley if she would release her medical records to the police. She refused. After Kelley was charged with vehicular assault, careless driving, and driving under the influence, she pled not guilty and endorsed the affirmative defense of involuntary intoxication. The State moved the trial court to conclude that Kelley’s endorsement of involuntary intoxication as an affirmative defense constituted an implied waiver of her physician-patient privilege and thus the State was entitled to the disclosure of her medical records. They further asked the court to determine that Kelley’s refusal to release her medical records was admissible at trial. The trial court granted the State's motion as to both issues. Kelley then petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to exercise its original jurisdiction for review. Kelly argued: (1) when she endorsed the affirmative defense of involuntary intoxication, she did not impliedly waive her physician-patient privilege; and (2) even if she did waive the privilege, the trial court’s order requiring the release of her medical records was too broad. Kelley also argued that her refusal to release her medical records was inadmissible because she cannot be penalized for exercising her Fourth Amendment right to refuse a warrantless search. The Supreme Court concluded: (1) a party impliedly waives the physician-patient privilege when they assert the affirmative defense of involuntary intoxication, limited to those medical records related to the affirmative defense; and (2) the trial court’s disclosure order here was not overbroad because it was carefully limited to those medical records that related to Kelley’s endorsement of the affirmative defense of involuntary intoxication. Because the parties did not have the opportunity to fully litigate the issue of the admissibility of Kelley's refusal to release the records, the Supreme Court declined to address it.