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Judge postpones decision on state’s request to throw out subpoena of former surgeon general

Circuit Judge John Cooper, bottom right, speaks during a hearing over Zoom on Tuesday afternoon. Image: YouTube

A judge has delayed a ruling on the new state surgeon general’s request to throw out a subpoena for testimony from his predecessor in a public records lawsuit over COVID-19 data.

Acting Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo cites the so-called “apex doctrine” that shields top executives if the relevant information is available from other sources.

Orlando State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith filed the lawsuit in August trying to get the Florida Department of Health to release daily local information, like it did earlier in the pandemic. Media companies have join the suit.

Smith says Dr. Scott Rivkees’ testimony is important.

“The state can’t claim that the surgeon general is the sole decider on what is a COVID-19 public record and what is not and then muzzle him and block him from being able to give us answers on why he made that decision,” Smith said Tuesday. “That’s why it’s important for us to hear from our former surgeon general.”

At a hearing Tuesday, Judge John Cooper in Leon County postponed a decision on the state’s motion. 

He ordered both sides to try informal mediation by noon Friday. The question of Rivkees’ deposition could delay next week’s trial.

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.