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Do I need an attorney to remove a document listing personal info about a crime against me on a state licensing website?

Hampton, NH |

A family member is a medical professional who got in trouble for inappropriate conduct involving family members. The district attorney and state board assured us we would suffer no repercussions by speaking with them and that the accused would not lose license but would be given a warning and the help needed. The opposite happened and very personal details with initials and relations were posted on the state board website. My entire family and social network are in the medical field. We have all been asked at one time or another about this very personal and hurtful situation at work and social functions. One atty for the state board said it never should have been posted and would be removed. That was many months ago and the questions keep coming.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

If the matter resulted in trial--the results are public information. State licensing agencies frequently post disciplinary facts in official publications--generally with the only the offenders name made public.
It may be that you have no options…that said it is certainly worth a sit-down with an attorney in your locale who can review the specifics of the matter and determine if there are any steps you can take to put this in the rear-view mirror.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. Mr. Rafter is licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. There is no implied or actual attorney-client relationship arising from this education exchange. You should speak with an attorney licensed in your state, to whom you have provided all the facts before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. Mr. Rafter is under no obligation to answer subsequent emails or phone calls related to this matter.

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2 lawyers agree

Posted

I agree as usual with Mr. Rafter that unfortunately some of this disciplinary documentation may remain on the public record because of "sunshine laws" and the general principles (also prevalent in the Court system) that proceedings must occur in public court and not behind closed doors to make officials accountable to the public and because of the "public's right to know" how government functions.

On the other hand, there is the argument that if some of this disciplinary documentation was confidential and could cause harm or embarrassment to the individual whistleblowers, there's no reason that the identities of the complainants couldn't be sealed, or pseudonyms or initials used as they are in with juvenile proceedings or sensitive matters (e.g., "Roe" v. Wade, Matter of J.R. etc.).

If you have the resources, I think it would be worth retaining an attorney and writing the state agency involved reminding them of the confidentiality assurances that were given you and that the disciplinary actions could occur with fairness to the respondent and disclosure to the public without naming names as they were. The AG's litigation bureau might be very nervous about defending a lawsuit by you for invasion of privacy and breach of contract for money damages, even if the claims might be "iffy" if they ever got as far as a trial. It's worth a shot.

Unfortunately, however, google never forgets and if the barn doors are open when information becomes free on the internet, it's hard to ever erase information that's "out there". Good luck with your endeavors!

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