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MISSISSIPPI STATE BOARD OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINERS v. ROBERT L. HOSFORD

APRIL 29, 1987

MISSISSIPPI STATE BOARD OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EXAMINERS
v.
ROBERT L. HOSFORD



BEFORE WALKER, C.J.; ROBERTSON AND ANDERSON, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

This case presents sensitive questions regarding the authority of a state-created board, charged with the governance of a learned profession, to interpret the canons of ethics of that profession and in accordance therewith to discipline a member of that profession. The case also presents questions regarding the scope of appellate judicial review of such disciplinary action.

 Substantially, the case involves a charge that a psychologist disclosed patient confidences without the patient's consent and in violation of his profession's confidentiality principles. The state board found that the violation had occurred and suspended the psychologist's license for ninety days. The Chancery Court reversed. As we regard the action taken within the authority and discretion of the Board, we reverse and reinstate the order of suspension.

 II.

 A.

 Robert L. Hosford, Ph.D., holds a license issued by the Mississippi State Board of Psychological Examiners to engage in the professional practice of psychology in this state. Dr. Hosford maintains his offices in Jackson, Mississippi, and

 exercises his license by practicing in the field of clinical psychology. Dr. Hosford was the Respondent below and is the Appellee here.

 The Mississippi State Board of Psychological Examiners (the Board) has been organized and exists via statutory enactment. Miss. Code Ann. 73-31-5, et seq. (Supp. 1980). At all times relevant hereto the Board was authorized and empowered to conduct hearings upon complaints seeking the disciplining of psychologists it has licensed and, where violation be found, to revoke or suspend such license. Miss. Code Ann. 73-31-7 (b)(4)(5) and 73-31-21 (1982). The Board is the Appellant here.

 This case has its genesis in the psychologist-patient relationship between Dr. Hosford and Patricia F. Lindsey and her former husband, Jimmy G. Lindsey. That relationship came into being on December 31, 1981, when the Lindseys, then husband and wife, consulted Dr. Hosford in his professional capacity and sought counseling and advice regarding difficulties they were experiencing in their marital relationship. These consultations continued for a little over two months. During their course, from time to time Patricia Lindsey would meet with Dr. Hosford privately, at other times Jimmy Lindsey would meet with Dr. Hosford privately, and on still other occasions the Lindseys would jointly consult with Dr. Hosford.

 In March of 1982 the Lindseys' marriage was clearly on the rocks as Patricia filed in the Chancery Court of Madison County, Mississippi, an action for divorce. Of immediate concern was the temporary custody of the parties' six-year-old son, Jon D. Lindsey. A temporary custody hearing was scheduled in Chancery Court for March 19, 1982. At that hearing Jimmy Hosford submitted an affidavit made by Dr. Hosford, dated March 18, 1982, setting forth the background of his professional relationship with the Lindseys and giving his opinion that temporary custody of the child should be placed with his father, Jimmy G. Lindsey. The giving of this affidavit has given rise to the present proceedings.

 At some time prior to the temporary hearing Dr. Hosford talked with the attorney representing Jimmy G. Lindsey and furnished certain information to the attorney who then prepared a draft of the proposed affidavit. Dr. Hosford then reviewed the affidavit and made editing changes and corrections. The affidavit was then retyped in final form and was executed by Dr. Hosford on March 18, 1982, in the presence of a notary public.

 In relevant part the affidavit states that Dr. Hosford counseled with Patricia Lindsey and Jimmy Lindsey both together and separately concerning their personal relationship as well as their respective relationships with their son; that during the course of these consultations Dr. Hosford reached conclusions regarding the" psychological traits of the parties including those which have a bearing on or relate to their respective concepts of parenthood in general and their respective responsibilities and roles as parents to their child in particular. "The affidavit continued, making clear that the opinion to be given was" based upon his [Dr. Hosford's] counseling with the parties, his observations of them . . . . "In the affidavit Dr. Hosford then gave rather specific opinions regarding the parenting skills of the two parties, the details of which need not be recounted, except to say that the opinion of Patricia F. Lindsey was quite unfavorable. In the final analysis, Dr. Hosford gave his" professional opinion that the interest and welfare of the child will be best served and promoted by placing his care, custody and control with Jimmy G. Lindsey, . . . . "

 Patricia Lindsey did not consent to the giving of this affidavit. As the point is of some moment, we note the following colloquy between Dr. Hosford and counsel at the hearing before the Board.

 Q. Did you ever at any time call Mrs. Lindsey and ask her whether or not it was all right for ...


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