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Ritt v. Ritt

Decided: December 13, 1967.

JUDITH RITT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LEO RITT, DEFENDANT



Heckman, J.s.c.

Heckman

This matter comes before the court on motions wherein defendant seeks an order directing plaintiff and her physician, Dr. Stanley Pogul, to answer questions propounded to them at depositions respectively taken on September 29 and November 7, 1967.

By complaint filed July 24, 1967 plaintiff sued under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-24 for separate maintenance, alleging that defendant's extreme cruelty caused her to leave him and that defendant has refused and neglected to maintain and provide for her.

By his answer defendant generally denied the allegations of the complaint and specifically reserved the right to file a counterclaim.

Prior to the instant motions defendant had moved for an order quashing the subpoena served on Dr. Stanley Pogul, which the court denied. At the taking of his deposition he refused, under instructions of his own counsel, to answer questions as to the complaints made to him by plaintiff on her initial visit; to describe the course of treatment prescribed for her; to disclose whether during his treatment of plaintiff she indicated any difficulties with her marriage to defendant, to disclose any information given him with respect to any difficulty which existed with her prior to her marriage to defendant, and generally refused, under counsel's direction, to answer any questions concerning complaints plaintiff had made to him, his findings from either examination, or observation, and his course of treatment.

At the taking of plaintiff's deposition her counsel generally objected on the ground that the questions asked did not relate to finances, support, money matters within the marriage, income, expenses and like areas, but asserted that the questions asked were in the nature of a "fishing expedition" into other areas. The questions objected to related to an alleged premarital social disease and plaintiff's treatment therefor.

Nothing before the court indicates that the husband had knowledge of the condition for which his wife sought treatment.

Two questions are presented for determination. The first is whether a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry falls within the purview of the privilege accorded psychologists under the Practicing Psychology Licensing Act, L. 1966, c. 282; N.J.S.A. 45:14B.

N.J.S.A. 45:14B-28 provides as follows:

"The confidential relations and communications between a licensed practicing psychologist and the individuals with whom he engages in the practice of psychology are placed on the same basis as those provided between attorney and client, and nothing in this act shall be construed to require any such privileged communications to be disclosed."

There is no proof before the court that Dr. Stanley Pogul is a licensed psychologist and therefore entitled to the privilege.

Members of other professional groups doing work of a psychological nature (N.J.S.A. 45:14B-8) are not prevented from doing work of a psychological nature consistent with the accepted standards of their respective professions, provided however, that they do not hold themselves out to the public by any title or description stating or implying that they are psychologists or are licensed to practice psychology. Hence, though they may apply psychological principles and procedures in the assessment, counseling or psychotherapy of individuals for the purposes of promoting the optimal development of their potential or the amelioration of their personality disturbances and maladjustments as manifested in personal and interpersonal situations, they need not have a license. However, if they hold themselves out to the public as ...


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