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In re Subpoena Issued to L.Q.

Decided: July 25, 1988.

IN THE MATTER OF SUBPOENA ISSUED TO L.Q., A JUVENILE


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Sussex County.

J. H. Coleman, O'Brien and Havey. The opinion of the court was delivered by O'Brien, J.A.D.

O'brien

Pursuant to leave granted, L.Q., a 17-year-old female, and her parents appeal from the denial of their application to quash a subpoena issued to L.Q. to testify before the grand jury. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

L.Q. was born on November 11, 1970. Between February and June 1986, on 25 or more occasions while a sophomore in high school,*fn1 15-year-old L.Q. was the victim of several incidents of sexual contact by one of her male teachers.*fn2 It was not until the fall of 1986, after L.Q. ran away from home to talk to her brother who was attending college in New York City, that her parents learned of these incidents. When L.Q. returned home, her parents reported it to the high school administration. L.Q. was present and explained the nature and details of the incidents to the high school principal.*fn3 When the teacher

was confronted with the report, he immediately resigned. Toward the end of September 1986, L.Q. gave a statement concerning the incidents to the police.

The prosecutor originally scheduled the matter for presentation to the grand jury on December 11, 1986 and subpoenaed L.Q., her mother and her brother. At the request of the attorney for L.Q. and her parents, a meeting was held with the prosecutor. At that meeting, the attorney produced a letter from the school psychologist to the school superintendent as to his counseling of L.Q. In that letter the psychologist said:

I strongly feel that any judicial action to prosecute the teacher involved would have a potentially serious effect on [L.Q.]. It would reopen wounds, increase her public visibility, and decrease her coping skills. In short, I feel [L.Q.] could commit suicide.

The attorney requested that the prosecutor postpone presentation of the matter to the grand jury and L.Q.'s parents requested that the prosecution be abandoned. The prosecutor agreed to postpone the grand jury presentation.

In January 1987, L.Q.'s attorney forwarded to the prosecutor a letter dated January 10, 1987 from Dr. Ellis J. Mischel, who is medical director and psychiatric consultant for a counseling center where L.Q. and her parents had sought help. In his letter, Dr. Mischel stated:

She is a sixteen year old high school student in emotional turmoil an [ sic ] is expressing suicidal thoughts.

He noted that L.Q. was being counseled by Rev. Anne Clarke, who is a pastoral counselor at the center, and recommended that no legal action be taken for the next two to three months.

In a report from Dr. Mischel dated April 7, 1987, sent to the prosecutor on April 22, he recommended "that L.Q. not be forced to appear in court but that she continue her therapy with Rev. Clarke." A memorandum dated March 16, 1987 from Rev. Clarke was enclosed in which she said:

[L.Q.] suffered from depression and had serious suicidal thoughts last September. . . . She continues to struggle with depression and threatens suicide still as the only alternative if she ...


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