|NMU||FLORIDA||Secret Courts||Oct 9, 2002|
Attorney asks judge to close Noelle Bush drug court proceedings
- The attorney for the governor’s daughter claims that drug courts should not be subject to the same openness as criminal courts.
In an effort to protect the privacy of Gov. Jeb Bush’s 25-year-old daughter, an attorney requested Oct. 8 that a judge close Noelle Bush’s drug court proceedings.
The purpose of a drug court, argued Peter Antonacci, is to help patients complete treatment. Drug courts should not allow the same openness as criminal courts, Antonacci said.
Bush was arrested in January for using a fake prescription to buy the anti-anxiety medicine Xanax. Upon receiving treatment at the Center for Drug-Free Living in Orlando, staffers found a 0.2 gram crack cocaine rock in Bush’s shoe.
Another effort in the case to distinguish special circumstances for drug-patients under criminal investigation has already succeeded, when a judge ruled Sept. 30 that the staffers who found the crack rock in Bush’s shoe did not have to answer police questions. He ruled that confidentiality rights of drug-treatment patients carry higher priority than police investigations.
“We’re concerned about the overall issue,” said Michael Griffin, state editor for The Orlando Sentinel. “The openness of the court is a safety check for the defendant.”
Griffin said the openness allows the public to ensure that the government is providing fair trials.
An issue the judge will have to consider is whether closing the drug court will impede Bush’s progress at the Center for Drug-Free Living.
Orange County Circuit Judge Reginald Whitehead will decide whether to close Bush’s drug court proceedings sometime this week or next.
© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press