HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THIRTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2023
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
RELATING TO VICTIM-COUNSELOR PRIVILEGE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that Act 208, Session Laws of Hawaii 2016 (Act 208), required the University of Hawaii to designate at each campus a confidential advocate for victims seeking help for sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and related issues. Act 208 also required the University of Hawaii to publicize on each campus website the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of confidential advocates. Since 2016, many victims have sought help from confidential advocates, which has allowed victims to gain the information and help that they need to continue succeeding in their educational, personal, and professional goals. One of the most important factors in providing assistance to victims has been confidentiality for victims who fear retaliation or further abuse and harassment.
The purpose of this Act is to expand the victim-counselor privilege under the Hawaii Rules of Evidence to include confidential advocates.
SECTION 2. Section 626-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by amending rule 505.5, subsections (a) and (b), to read as follows:
"(a) Definitions. As used in this rule:
(1) A communication is "confidential" if not intended to be disclosed to third persons other than those to whom disclosure would be in furtherance of the provision of counseling or treatment services to the victim or those reasonably necessary for the transmission of the communication.
(2) "Domestic violence victims' program" means any refuge, shelter, office, safe home, institution, or center established for the purpose of offering assistance to victims of abuse through crisis intervention, medical, legal, or support counseling.
(3) "Sexual assault crisis center" means any office, institution, or center offering assistance to victims of sexual assault and the families of such victims through crisis intervention, medical, legal, or support counseling.
(4) "Social worker" means a person who has received a master's degree in social work from a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.
(5) A "victim" is a person who consults a victim counselor for assistance in overcoming any adverse emotional or psychological effect of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment, or child abuse.
(6) A "victim counseling program" is any activity of a domestic violence victims' program or a sexual assault crisis center that has, as its primary function, the counseling and treatment of sexual assault, domestic violence, or child abuse victims and their families, and that operates independently of any law enforcement agency, prosecutor's office, or the department of human services.
(7) A "victim counselor" is [
a sexual assault counselor [ or a], domestic violence victims'
counselor[ .], or confidential advocate. A sexual assault counselor is a person who is
employed by or is a volunteer in a sexual assault crisis center, has undergone
a minimum of thirty-five hours of training and who is, or who reports to and is
under the direct control and supervision of, a social worker, nurse,
psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychotherapist, and whose primary function is
the rendering of advice, counseling, or assistance to victims of sexual
assault. A domestic violence victims'
counselor is a person who is employed by or is a volunteer in a domestic
violence victims' program, has undergone a minimum of [ twenty-five] thirty-five
hours of training and who is, or who reports to and is under the direct control
and supervision of, a direct service supervisor of a domestic violence victims'
program, and whose primary function is the rendering of advice, counseling, or
assistance to victims of abuse. A
confidential advocate is a person who is designated by the University of Hawaii
pursuant to section 304A-120 to confidentially discuss sexual assault, domestic
violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and related issues with
victims, has undergone a minimum of thirty-five hours of training, and whose
primary function is the rendering of advice, counseling, or assistance to
(b) General rule of privilege. A victim has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent any other person from disclosing confidential communications made to a victim counselor for the purpose of counseling or treatment of the victim for the emotional or psychological effects of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment, or child abuse or neglect, and to refuse to provide evidence that would identify the name, location, or telephone number of a safe house, abuse shelter, or other facility that provided temporary emergency shelter to the victim."
SECTION 3. If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of the Act that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.
SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
Rules of Evidence; Victim-Counselor Privilege; University of Hawaii; Confidential Advocates
Expands the victim-counselor privilege under the Hawaii Rules of Evidence to include confidential advocates employed by the University of Hawaii. Increases the minimum number of hours of training a domestic violence victims' counselor must complete to be considered a victim counselor. (SD1)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.