January 26, 2015

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Gilligan Records Case

Amy Archer Gilligan was suspected of committing two dozen murders in the early 20th century, and her story served as the basis for the film Arsenic and Old Lace. As reported in CT News Junkie, Gilligan was committed to Connecticut Valley Hospital after pleading guilty to one of the murders and remained there from 1924 until her death in 1962. More than 50 years later, the Connecticut Supreme Court is considering whether her treatment records are subject to disclosure under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The case began when a journalist researching Gilligan requested her treatment records from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). In 2012, the Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) ruled that some of Gilligan’s records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to a statutory psychiatrist-patient privilege, but that other Gilligan records must be released because they did not fall under this privilege. After DMHAS appealed, the Superior Court largely upheld FOIC’s decision, but ruled DMHAS could also withhold records of Gilligan’s physical and dental examinations because disclosure would be an invasion of personal privacy.

FOIC and DMHAS cross-appealed the Superior Court’s decision. The Supreme Court heard arguments on January 14.

Click here to read the full CT News Junkie article about the case.