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ACLU file briefs
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 02/17/2004 @ 3:35 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Attorneys for Rush Limbaugh filed a brief today with the Fourth District Court of Appeal in support of the talk-show host’s position that the state of Florida violated his constitutionally protected privacy rights by seizing his medical records.
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The American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief in support of Limbaugh, while an alliance of the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain, The Florida Pain Initiative and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons also will file a brief, according to a statement on the broadcaster’s website.
Limbaugh’s attorney, Roy Black argues in the brief if the December seizure is allowed to stand, “every prosecutor across this state will be able to seize entire medical files based on probable cause alone, in derogation of the statutory and constitutional right to privacy in our medical affairs.”
As part of an investigation into Limbaugh’s admitted use of painkillers, the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office in Florida seized the medical records of four doctors who treated Limbaugh for pain.
“What meaning would the patient protections in the Constitution and the law have if prosecutors could disregard them any time they wanted to?” Black said. “As Mr. Limbaugh’s attorney, it is my duty to do everything I can to have his rights under the Constitution and the law restored. But the ACLU and the other groups have joined this case because the outcome will significantly affect everyone’s right to doctor-patient confidentiality and medical privacy.”
The files were seized under authority of a search warrant, but are now being held under seal while the Court of Appeal decides whether a lower court erred in granting prosecutors access to them.
Black’s central argument is that the Florida Constitution and state law specifically require law enforcement to first apply for a subpoena to obtain medical records and notify the patient of their intent. Secondly, the law requires that the patient be given an opportunity to oppose the action in a court hearing. And third, if the seizure is opposed, the state must provide evidence at the hearing why the subpoena should be granted. None of the requirements were met, Black contends.
The attorney’s brief asks the court to order Limbaugh’s records returned to the doctors and prohibit the prosecutors from obtaining them in the future and using them in any way.
No charges have been filed against Limbaugh.
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