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Judge Blasts Medical Care at Palm Beach County Jail After Alien’s Death

July 2, 1985

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ A circuit judge says he has asked Gov. Bob Graham to appoint an investigator to look into the death of a Haitian who had been jailed on a misdemeanor charge.

″I would suggest that this circuit has seen several such cases which would imply negligence, insensitivity and incompetence on the part of the medical section of Palm Beach County Jail,″ Judge Edward Rodgers said in a letter written Friday, his last day as chief judge of the Palm Beach County circuit.

″To the best of my knowledge, no grand jury has ever found anything wrong,″ he said in the letter, which he released at a press conference Monday.

Officials in Graham’s office said they had received neither Rodgers’ letter nor a response by State Attorney David Bludworth to Rodgers’ remarks about him.

Marion Abraham, 34, died June 19 of a broken neck that led to a heart attack, according to medical examiners. He was being held on misdemeanor charges and was injured in a scuffle with corrections officers.

The incident was reminiscent of the death of Thomas Geter, a murder suspect who died in custody in 1982 after complaining he could not eat because he wasn’t able to swallow, the judge wrote.

Rodgers wrote that he learned of Geter’s health difficulties when he toured the jail and when Geter’s mother came to court ″begging for help.″ But Geter died before Rodgers could order jail doctors to provide the inmate with medical attention.

In that case, Rodgers said, the investigating grand jury did not call him to testify and found no wrongdoing on the part of jail officials.

″Cases of this type affect the integrity and credibility of the judicial system,″ he wrote. Rodgers said grand juries investigating accusations against police ″very rarely, if ever, find any criminal activity, negligence″ or wrongdoing ″in this county.″

In attacking Bludworth, the judge wrote that the state attorney was quick to bring charges against people accused of harming police officers but that the opposite was not true.

In a responding letter, Bludworth criticized Rodgers’ remarks to the governor as ″irresponsible and erroneous.″

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