Black's lawyer appeals ruling to Maine Supreme Judicial Court
Rockland — The attorney for Charles Reed Black, 69, has filed a timely appeal in Maine Supreme Judicial Court against a ruling that denied the defendant's right to suppress his medical history.
Attorney Walter McKee of Augusta filed the appeal Nov. 5, within the allowable 10 days for an appeal of the Oct. 24 ruling by Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm.
Black, of Camden, was charged April 15, 2011 with aggravated assault against his wife after he allegedly struck her in the head with a rock and dragged her body to the edge of Maiden Cliff and pushed her over while the two were hiking in Camden Hills State Park. In July 2011, he was indicted by the grand jury for six criminal offenses, including attempted murder, arising from the alleged incident.
Black has denied the allegations and told police he had passed out and hit her head with his when he fell, according to the police affidavit.
"This means we won't be going to trial Dec. 3," McKee said Nov. 5. "We're going all the way to the Maine Supreme Court."
McKee had argued the prosecution obtained the medical records illegally of his client. Hjelm denied McKee's motion to dismiss and to suppress Black's criminal charges.
On March 18, 2012, prosecution sought and obtained a search warrant for all medical records from the week-long hospitalization of the defendant at EMMC, when he was treated for injuries he reportedly sustained during the episode, Hjelm wrote.
The state obtained the records and produced copies for the defense as discovery.
McKee then moved to dismiss the pending charges, or alternatively, to suppress that evidence owing to the state’s acquisition of the medical records. He contended that the state obtained the protected records through an improper procedure and that the warrant application did not support probable cause.
For the restriction pertaining to his review, Hjelm pointed out that during the hearing in September the prosecutor said the only person in his office who may have reviewed the records is a prosecutorial assistant. None of the prosecutors have read the medical records, Hjelm was told.
“If and when the prosecutor in the case reads the medical records, then the injury alleged by the defendant will result and cannot be reversed,” Hjelm wrote.
Hjelm ordered that the prosecution was to refrain from reading the medical evidence for 10 days from the date of the order, Oct. 24.
McKee, in his Nov. 5 appeal to the Maine Law Court, said, "The rights of the defendant will be irreparably lost if review is delayed until final judgment," referring to "the defendant's right to maintain confidentiality of medical and psychological records that are subject of the order."
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.