- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 7, 2004

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Rush Limbaugh’s medical records were properly seized by investigators seeking information on reported illegal drug use, an appeals court ruled yesterday.

State investigators had raided the offices of Mr. Limbaugh’s doctors seeking information on whether the conservative radio commentator illegally tried to buy prescription painkillers. Mr. Limbaugh, 53, has not been charged with a crime and the investigation had been at a standstill pending a decision on the medical records.

“We hold that the constitutional right of privacy in medical records is not implicated by the state’s seizure and review of medical records under a valid search warrant without prior notice or hearing,” a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled 2-1.

Prosecutors went after Mr. Limbaugh’s medical records after learning that he reportedly received about 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months, at a pharmacy near his Palm Beach mansion.

Mr. Limbaugh admitted his addiction to pain medication last October, saying it stemmed from severe back pain. He took a five-week leave from his radio show to enter a rehabilitation program.

A spokesman for the commentator didn’t have any immediate comment, but on his radio program yesterday, Mr. Limbaugh said the ruling would be appealed.

State Attorney Barry Krischer, a Democrat who’s been accused by Mr. Limbaugh of having political motivations in the case, said the appellate ruling validates the investigation and will allow the case to move forward.

“This office did not violate any of Mr. Limbaugh’s constitutional rights, but to the contrary, acted in accord with Florida law,” Mr. Krischer said.

Mr. Limbaugh’s attorney argued before the appellate court in April that investigators should have provided some notice they were going to seize records containing private information, instead of using search warrants and giving Mr. Limbaugh no chance to challenge the seizure.

“The Legislature said you can’t do a wholesale seizure and hope to find evidence of a crime,” lawyer Roy Black said at the April hearing. “You’d have to stand privacy on its head.”

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