ACLU Sues Greeley Sheriff for Withholding Former Inmate's Medical Records
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2000
The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) filed suit today against Weld County Sheriff Ed Jordan for refusing to permit a former inmate to see the medical records that document the medical care he received when he was housed in the Weld County Jail.
In correspondence with the ACLU, Sheriff Ed Jordan took the position that an inmate’s medical records constitute "criminal justice records" that he has the discretion to withhold.
"Sheriff Jordan is wrong," said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. "Patients and former patients have an absolute right to review their medical records. Contrary to the Sheriff’s belief, there is no law enforcement exception and no exception for correctional facilities. Even the Department of Corrections acknowledges that inmates have the right to review their own medical records."
The ACLU acted on behalf of Jason Thompson, who was an inmate during parts of 1997 and 1998. According to the lawsuit, the ACLU first wrote on behalf of Thompson to request the incident reports that document a night that Thompson spent strapped into the jail’s restraint chair, a night that included several visits from the jail’s nurse. When the Sheriff denied that request, Thompson then asked for his medical records. The Sheriff denied that request, too, in a letter that stated that he had never made such records available to inmates.
This is the fourth time in recent years that the ACLU of Colorado has sued a law enforcement agency under the Colorado Open Records Act for failing to disclose records. In March, the ACLU sued Pueblo Sheriff Dan Coresentino for refusing to disclose his policies regarding the use of the restraint chair. A hearing in that case was conducted in Pueblo District Court on May 18, 2000, and a decision is expected soon. In two additional cases, the ACLU succeeded in obtaining a court order that forced the Denver Police Department to disclose documents connected with internal investigations into alleged police misconduct.
Today’s case, Thompson v. Jordan, was filed in Weld County District Court in Greeley.