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Princeton University Fights Police Request For Student Records

April 16, 1988

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Princeton University has gone to court to block a police request for medical records of 45 students hospitalized for excessive drinking at two of the Ivy League school’s eating clubs.

Joining the university in its efforts are the Medical Center at Princeton, the Mercer Council on Alcoholism and the state Division of Alcoholism. Arguments are scheduled April 22 in Mercer County Superior Court.

Princeton borough police are seeking access to records of 39 students treated at the university infirmary and six students treated at the medical center after parties at the Charter Club and Cloister Inn on Feb. 6.

The eating clubs are private clubs similar to fraternities.

Princeton police have charged five students who are present or former officers at the two clubs with maintaining a nuisance, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Police Capt. Thomas Michaud said the medical records will help in the prosecution of the defendants but are not vital to the case.

Superior Court Judge Neil Shuster granted police access to the medical records March 23, but the university won a suspension of the court order until next week’s hearing.

The university and medical center argued in court papers that releasing the information breaches the students’ privilege of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Alexander P. Waugh Jr., an attorney for the medical center and the university, said Friday that release of the records would discourage students from seeking treatment for drug and alcohol problems.

A friend-of-the-court brief was filed Thursday by the alcoholism council, which supports the position of the university and hospital. The Division of Alcoholism also wrote an affidavit in support of the brief.

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