JEANINE PIRRO: Welcome back. Rush Limbaugh’s attorney not backing down against Florida prosecutors who are investigating the talk radio show host for crimes related to an addiction to prescription drugs.
Noted defense attorney Roy Black’s op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal last week blasts Palm Beach County state attorney Barry Krischer for the ongoing investigation and failing to file any charges. In the piece, Black accuses prosecutors of seizing Limbaugh’s medical records and threatening to make them public and leaking what he calls false information to the media.
Among other charges, Black writes, quote, “Normally, people with drug dependencies who acknowledge their problems and seek treatment are lauded for their courage, not prosecuted. So am I wrong to wonder if something is out of whack when the Palm Beach County state attorney pulls out all the stops in an effort to nail Rush, while giving immunity to the traffickers who supposedly kept him supplied with painkillers.”
We called the Palm Beach County state’s attorney’s office. They declined to comment. So what are Rush Limbaugh’s rights in this case? Let’s ask his attorney. I’m now joined by Roy Black, my good friend. Roy, welcome. First question.
ROY BLACK: Yes.
PIRRO: Prosecutors went ahead and got a search warrant. In order to do so, they had to have probable cause, they had to appear before a judge, they executed that search warrant pursuant to the orders of the warrant. What’s wrong with that, Roy?
BLACK: Well, in the normal case, there would be absolutely nothing wrong with that, Jeanine. The only thing that’s wrong with it in this case and in this state is that we have a statute that specifically outlines how medical records can be obtained. And this is done pursuant to our constitutional right of privacy in the Florida Constitution. The number one thing that has to be done is you have to give the patient notice and an opportunity to go to court to block you from getting those records. The prosecutors deliberately bypassed that requirement.
PIRRO: So what you’re saying is that the Florida statute really surpasses or requires law enforcement to go an extra step than the Constitution itself?
BLACK: Well, not only am I saying that, but the Fourth District Court of Appeal two years ago in a similar case said the same thing. As you know, state statutes can require a higher burden for prosecutors and police than the Constitution does. We do that all the time in every state. In Florida we’ve decided our medical records are so important that we need more protection than the Fourth Amendment or the Florida Constitution gives us on search and seizures.
PIRRO: Okay. But, Roy, when the evidence was seized, the names of Rush’s medications appeared on national television. How does that happen?
BLACK: You know, that’s an excellent question. What happened is the prosecutors for the first time that I’ve ever seen in my career filed a copy of the warrant with the affidavit and the attachments in the public file. In every other case they do so under seal because of the ongoing investigation. Not with Rush Limbaugh. They put it in a public filing so it could get out on the Internet, through every possible TV and radio station, all in an effort just to embarrass my client.
PIRRO: But you know, Roy, we all know that there is a return on the warrant, as you say, but, Roy, who has the obligation to do the seal? Does the court have that obligation? Does the prosecution? Does the defense? Should they seek the sealing? How does that happen?
BLACK: Well, prosecutors normally file search warrants in nonpublic files, or they get sealing orders from judges. The judge, on their own, is not going to do it. The defense, of course, doesn’t know about it, so there’s no way the defense lawyer can file and ask for a sealing. It’s up to the prosecutor, who’s the only person who’s aware of it and has the power to do it, and they do it in every other single case. Only in Rush’s case is he singled out for special treatment.
PIRRO: And, Roy, what about the letter that was released where there was apparently discussions of a plea bargain or plea negotiations going on? How did that end up in the press?
BLACK: Well, what happened is I wrote a letter to them saying, look, I know this investigation is going on. Why don’t you treat Rush just like you do everybody else and have a diversion program with rehabilitation, you can monitor him and satisfy yourself about his rehabilitation. The prosecutors wrote me back saying, no, we’re not going to allow that, he has to plead guilty to a felony. And of course we rejected that. But then they turned around and released all that to the press, claiming that the Florida bar and the Florida attorney general’s office required them to do so. Immediately upon that, both the bar and the attorney general said that was false.
PIRRO: Not good. Final question, Roy, how is Rush doing?
BLACK: You know, all you have to do is listen to him every day and you can hear he’s in good spirits. He’s a hard-working guy. And before I go I want to say one thing, Jeanine. I’m glad to see you finally have your own TV show.
PIRRO: (Laughing.) No, I don’t.
BLACK: You’ve been wasting your considerable talents as a prosecutor, and this is what you ought to be doing.
PIRRO: But you know what, Roy, it’s in our blood, we love what we do. But anyway, we’re just sitting in for Dan Abrams and delighted to be here. But, Roy, it’s great to see you. Thanks for joining us tonight.
BLACK: Thank you for inviting me.
PIRRO: My pleasure.