PRINT PAGELimbaugh Makes Appeal to High Court

Conservative radio king Rush Limbaugh laid out his legal argument over the seizure of his medical records for Florida's highest court Thursday, the first step in landing his case there.

Lawyers for Limbaugh wrote in filings before the Florida Supreme Court that local prosecutors deliberately violated Florida law and seized his medical records without first notifying Limbaugh, a violation of his privacy rights.

"The state chose... to fish through Mr. Limbaugh's medical records and see 'what it can charge, if anything,' " wrote attorneys for Limbaugh, quoting what the prosecutor had once said in court.

Prosecutors must now file their argument within 20 days. They are expected to highlight the age-old right for criminal investigators to seize evidence with search warrants, as they did in Limbaugh's case.

The high court could still decline to hear Limbaugh's appeal.

Limbaugh is asking justices to overturn a 2-1 appeals court ruling he lost last year when the panel ruled that Florida's medical privacy laws don't apply to search warrants.

Limbaugh's unlikely ally, the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union, has joined the fight, saying the seizure negatively affected the privacy rights of all Floridians. The ACLU also filed their brief before the high court Thursday.

Limbaugh, 54, has not been charged with any crime. Prosecutors seized his medical records from four different doctors in November 2003 while investigating whether he "doctor-shopped," or asked different doctors for overlapping prescriptions. Limbaugh has said he became addicted to painkillers year ago after undergoing spinal surgery.

Assistant State Attorney James Martz, the line prosecutor who's handled the case to date, said Thursday that he will be writing the response for the high court. That signals that one of Florida's most prominent Republican lawyers will not be stepping in to help the state.

State Attorney Barry Krischer and former attorney general candidate Tom Warner had discussed Warner joining their team for the appeal.

Krischer's spokesman declined to comment on the matter Thursday. Warner did not return calls for comment.


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