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Judge holds off on ruling in Bismarck counselor’s case

September 28, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A judge said she wants more information before she’ll rule whether a Bismarck addiction counselor illegally hindered police from arresting a patient by refusing them entry to a private drug treatment center.

South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland said Wednesday that she has questions regarding the constitutional protection from unlawful searches and seizures as it relates to the misdemeanor hindering law enforcement charges against Kiki Schatz, the Bismarck Tribune reported. Schatz was charged in June after she barred police from entering an opioid treatment clinic at the Heartview Foundation.

Bismarck police were attempting to arrest Brendan Kapfer for allegedly violating a protection order. Schatz said she spoke to the officers inside the facility and invoked Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations, a federal privacy law to protect patients seeking substance abuse treatment.

Schatz said she’s obligated to protect patients’ confidentiality rights.

Officer Matthew James alleged that Schatz barred them from entering the private facility and pushed the officers away from the clinic door.

“Physically barring a door and not allowing us access to the building to conduct our duties, yes, I believe she hindered law enforcement,” James said.

James said at the hearing that Schatz did invoke federal requirements when she refused police entry, but that police had probable cause for Kapfer’s arrest and a warrant in a separate matter.

The federal privacy law provides confidentiality even in the face of warrants for search and arrest, with the exception that a crime occurred on the premises or a subpoena compels disclosure.

Feland questioned whether law enforcement needed a search warrant in order to force entry into the private facility. Feland has requested post-hearing briefs by Oct. 4.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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