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To Tarasoff Or Not Tarasoff James Holmes, Colorado Shooter?
such as psychologists and psychiatrists. The decision derives from an
important case in California which held that the mental health professional
who has knowledge of a patient's intent to do harm to another person or
the property of another SHALL break confidentiality (and ignore the
privileged communication held by the patient) to notify authorities and
Tarasoff II extends the obligation a step further and compels the
mental health professional, who has knowledge of a patient's
dangerousness, to break confidentiality in order to "protect" the
The question in the case of James Holmes now arises, since it has
come to light that he was undergoing treatment by a psychiatrist
who was head of the University's student mental health services,
and who also specialized in schizophrenia.
Did Doctor Fenton have any clue that her patient, James Holmes, was
planning the Aurora massacre? Did he hint to her in ways that she, as
a specialist in schizophrenia, could comprehend?
We know that he sent her his notebook with a detailed account of the
crime, to include drawings, just before the massacre, though it stayed
in a campus mail room and was never delivered to the psychiatrist.
Defense attorneys now argue that the mere leaking of the existence
of the notebook by the government (prosecution) was a violation of
the Court's "gag order" and interferes with the defendant's
What say you? And what's your take on the psychiatrist's likely
knowledge that James Holmes was dangerous to the extent that
she should've exercised reporting to authorities, as required under
the Tarasoff rulings.
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