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Inmate’s lawsuit proceeds against South Dakota AG

April 4, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A federal judge won’t dismiss a lawsuit brought by an inmate alleging South Dakota’s attorney general violated his constitutional protection from unreasonable search and seizures.

Matthew Kurtenbach filed the lawsuit after Attorney General Marty Jackley’s office issued three subpoenas in 2014 to obtain his medical and pharmacy records. Kurtenbach was on parole and suspected of attempting to illegally obtain prescription drugs. He later pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken decided to proceed with the lawsuit against Jackley and Assistant Attorney General Lindsey Quasne to determine if there’s an ongoing practice of using unlawful subpoenas, the Argus Leader reported .

The state admitted in Kurtenbach’s criminal prosecution that some of its offices “routinely issue subpoenas to obtain medical records in criminal cases.” The state didn’t legally issue subpoenas in Kurtenbach’s case because they weren’t issued in the name of a grand jury or court.

Judge Wally Eklund sanctioned the state during the case for its practice of subpoenaing medical records, which he said violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. The state said medical records held the same importance as bank records or internet IP addresses, but Eklund ruled that medical records are entitled to privacy protection.

Such records “contain intimate facts of a personal nature,” according to Eklund.

Sara Rabern, a spokeswoman for Jackley, declined to comment citing pending litigation.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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