Fla. judge reseals Limbaugh's medical records

A day after opening them, he grants time for appeal

December 25, 2003|By Peter Franceschina | Peter Franceschina,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A day after a judge allowed Palm Beach County prosecutors to begin reviewing Rush Limbaugh's medical records as part of their investigation into his prescription drug use, the judge reversed himself yesterday and ordered the records sealed for 15 days to give attorneys for the conservative commentator time to appeal.

The order by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Winikoff was the latest move in the battle over Limbaugh's medical records.

Prosecutors seized the records from four doctors and sealed them in late November and early December.

Prosecutors say the records are crucial to their investigation into whether Limbaugh violated drug laws by obtaining overlapping prescriptions from several doctors. Limbaugh's attorneys say prosecutors have violated Limbaugh's right to privacy.

Prosecutors would not comment yesterday on whether they reviewed the records after Winikoff first ordered them unsealed Tuesday morning. Miami attorney Roy Black, who represents Limbaugh, issued a statement yesterday after Winikoff's ruling.

"As I stated earlier, while we are confident that an examination of the records will show there was no `doctor shopping,' but rather a legitimate need for the doctor visits, we are also confident that the facts will show that the state improperly seized these records and, further, there is no basis for them to have these records at all," he said.

Limbaugh took to the radio yesterday afternoon and told listeners that his attorneys had asked the prosecutors not to review the records Tuesday, even though the judge's order allowed it, so they could appeal. Limbaugh said he learned - he didn't say from whom - that Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer told his investigators to begin reviewing the records.

"The state's attorney, Barry Krischer, personally ordered it, from what we're told, and his investigators began rifling through my medical records. Yet today the judge granted our stay, and now we have a chance to appeal his decision," Limbaugh said. "This means that the records have been ordered sealed again. But the state attorney has already had his investigators poring through them. I'm not surprised. My case is being treated differently than anyone else's is in this matter."

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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