The prosecution and defense in the Hemy Neuman case on Wednesday sparred over the state's request to interview a psychologist who evaluated the man four months before he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in a fatal shooting outside a Dunwoody day-care facility.
That psychologist, Dr. Peter Thomas, was in court Wednesday but was not called to testify as DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams postponed a ruling on the state's motion.
"We already possess a search warrant to go into his office," said DeKalb Assistant District Attorney Don Geary. "I'm looking for the court to tell me how to go forward."
Prosecutors argue that because Thomas was conducting an evaluation of Neuman, the defendant cannot claim confidentiality. The defense argues that attorney-client privilege supports its motion to quash the proposed interview by prosecutors.
"[Thomas] met with us and discussed the case with us and discussed clearly privileged information," Neuman attorney Bob Rubin said. "[Thomas] told Mr. Neuman what Mr. Neuman told him would not be disclosed to anyone but the defense team."
Allowing prosecutors to interview Thomas would have a "chilling effect" on the defense use of experts for fear they'd do their clients "more harm than good," Rubin said.
Defense attorneys confirmed that Thomas evaluated their client. According to jail logs maintained by the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office, the psychologist met with Neuman from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. May 11. Under "reason for visit" he wrote, "Testing."
"We want to know what the results of the evaluation were considering the sanity of the defendant," Geary said.
Neuman, a Marietta engineer, is charged in the November 2010 fatal shooting of entrepreneur Rusty Sneiderman.
Defense lawyer Doug Peters said his client acknowledged pulling the trigger but that he was unable to differentiate between right and wrong at the time due to his mental illness.
Neuman's trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 13.