Thursday, August 24, 2006
Texas Judge Renews Criticism In Case of Missing Silicosis X-Rays
By JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the New York Sun
August 24, 2006
A federal judge assigned to oversee litigation regarding a lung disease, silicosis, is again criticizing the attorney general of Texas for seizing thousands of X-rays that are key to the cases.
"The Office of the Texas Attorney General's disregard of this court's orders may demonstrate an unfamiliarity with the United States Constitution," Judge Janis Jack of Corpus Christi wrote in an order dated Tuesday. "The Texas Attorney General had no authority, even if sanctioned by a Texas state court, to remove documents … without the permission of this court."
The clash between Judge Jack and the Texas prosecutor, Greg Abbott, was first reported by The New York Sun.
On June 23, armed investigators from Mr. Abbott's office used a county grand jury subpoena to seize thousands of X-rays and other records gathered by Judge Jack from silicosis lawsuits across the country. Judge Jack said many of the suits were fraudulently "manufactured" by attorneys and a small group of physicians.
Mr. Abbott's office claims it returned all the records after learning of Judge Jack's ire, but a court-ordered tally determined that 152 X-rays were missing. The manager of the company storing the records for the court found them in some disarray after the seizure, the Corpus Christi Times reported yesterday.
Judge Jack ordered Mr. Abbott to identify the staff members responsible for the seizure and to provide a full accounting of who had access to the records while they were out of the court's control.
A spokesman for Mr. Abbott, Jerry Strickland, said detailed affidavits about the handling of the records were already filed and that there were indications that records were of missing even before the Texas officials became involved. "Every document obtained by this office was returned," the spokesman said.
I do wonder why this news story got more play in New York than it has in Texas.
Or, who is getting the money?
Terry D. Barhorst Sr.
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