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Henry Ruggs’ lawyers say medical records are privileged

Updated November 15, 2021 - 7:41 pm

Defense attorneys for former Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs argued in court papers filed Monday that turning over his medical records to prosecutors violates doctor-patient privilege.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Suzan Baucum set a hearing for Dec. 8 on arguments regarding the medical records in the fatal DUI crash that killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor. Baucum had previously granted what she said was a routine request from prosecutors to access the records of Ruggs and his longtime girlfriend, Rudy Washington, but halted the request until the December hearing.

Ruggs, 22, has been charged with felony counts of DUI resulting in death, DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm and two counts of reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm in connection with the death of Tintor and the injuries Washington suffered in the crash.

Ruggs’ attorneys — David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld — outlined their argument in Monday’s motion, stating that the order violated Nevada’s doctor-patient privilege law by allowing health care providers to testify in pretrial conferences about Ruggs’ treatment following the Nov. 2 crash.

“Patients would presumably be hesitant to interact candidly and openly with medical professionals if they knew that conclusions drawn from those interactions could be used against them in future legal proceedings,” the motion stated, adding that a lawyer for Washington was expected to join in the argument. “These policy considerations are especially strong in the present context, where a patient allegedly involved in a fatal car accident is transported by ambulance to the hospital for emergency medical treatment.”

Prosecutors had not responded to the filing as of late Monday, according to court records.

The defense attorneys argued that the Nevada Court of Appeals has previously “cautioned” prosecutors from making broad requests for medical records, the motion said.

The motion also stated that the Las Vegas Justice Court does not have the jurisdiction to order criminal discovery prior to a preliminary hearing, which is when a judge determines if there is enough evidence for someone to stand trial.

After Ruggs’ first court appearance on Nov. 3, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said he was told that Ruggs had suffered leg injuries and that Washington had suffered a “significant” wrist injury. Ruggs first appeared in court in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace.

Last week, Chesnoff and Schonfeld said they had a witness who alleges firefighters failed to quickly put out the fire in Tintor’s RAV4 after the wreck.

Ruggs also was charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of a firearm while under the influence, court records show. Authorities have said a loaded weapon was found in his Chevrolet Corvette Stingray after the crash.

Ruggs was reportedly driving 156 mph just seconds before the fiery pre-dawn crash. Prosecutors have said his blood alcohol level was 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit for drivers in Nevada, after the crash.

He could face up to 40 years behind bars if convicted of the DUI counts.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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