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Commonwealth v. Berger

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

July 14, 2014

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
MARVIN LYNN BERGER APPEAL OF: CHILDREN'S RESOURCE CENTER

Argued: February 26, 2014.

Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Cumberland County, Criminal Division, No: CP-21-CR-0000280-2012. Before MASLAND, J.

Richard C.Seneca, Lewisberg, for appellant.

Jeffrey B. Engle, Harrisburg, for Berger, appellee.

Before: GANTMAN, P.J., DONOHUE, and STABILE, JJ. OPINION BY STABILE, J.

OPINION

Page 1050

STABILE, J.

Appellant, Children's Resource Center (" CRC" ), appeals from the July 19, 2013 order directing it to produce documents for in camera review. We vacate and remand.

Marvin Lynn Berger (" Berger" ), the defendant in the underlying prosecution, stands accused of aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault, indecent exposure, corruption of minors, and open lewdness.[1] The alleged victims are four minors aged six through sixteen during the time of the offenses. CRC personnel conducted videotaped interviews of each of the alleged victims. The Commonwealth sought permission to play the interview videos at trial. Berger filed six separate petitions titled " Petition to Mandate Disclosure of Records for in camera Review" seeking disclosure of notes and writings pertaining to interviews of the alleged victims by various CRC personnel. Each of these petitions concluded by requesting the trial court to direct the Commonwealth to disclose the relevant materials.

The trial court issued a June 23, 2013 order [2] directing CRC to produce the requested

Page 1051

documents or file answers to Berger's petitions within 20 days. CRC filed answers, and on July 19, 2013, the trial court ordered CRC to produce the documents for in camera review. CRC filed this timely appeal from the trial court's collateral order.[3]

CRC argues that the trial court lacked authority to order CRC to produce its records. CRC asserts that it is a private third party medical provider and that Rule 573 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure does not authorize the trial court to order CRC to provide discovery in connection with a criminal action. CRC also argues the trial court's order violates the children's right to privacy in their medical records. To this end, CRC argues the trial court should have appointed a guardian ad litem for the children and conducted a hearing at which CRC and the children could create a record concerning the asserted privacy interests. CRC's Brief at 2.

We first consider the trial court's authority to order CRC to provide discovery. CRC is correct in its assertion that Rule 573 primarily addresses the Commonwealth's duty to provide discovery and the trial court's discretion to order the Commonwealth to provide or permit inspection of items sought by a defendant. Rule 573 ...


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