Many suspect Zachery Tims overdosed on drugs, being that he had a past addiction and was found in his secured hotel room alone.
After an initial autopsy was returned inconclusive, another was ordered along with a toxicology on the white substance.
State Supreme Court Judge Cynthia S. Kern withheld judgment today on whether the cause of Zachery Tims’ death should be released to the public or kept confidential to the family.Attorneys for Madeline Tims, the preacher’s mother who filed the lawsuit to keep the cause of death confidential, argued before Kern that the medical examiner’s autopsy and toxicology reports are medical records and should not be released without permission from the family.
City attorneys representing the medical examiner’s office contend that while the toxicology and autopsy reports are confidential, the manner and cause of death are not.
Ave Maria Brennan, senior counsel with the New York City Law Department, argued that there is nothing in state law that expressly prohibits the release of a person’s cause of death. That gives the medical examiner the authority to release the information while withholding the report itself, Brennan argued.
“We affirm that the city has a right to release cause and manner of death upon public inquiry,” Brennan said. Oquendo disagreed, arguing that there is no distinction between a report and the information contained within it.
Anthony Suarez, the Orlando attorney representing Madeline Tims, said the medical examiner’s practice of releasing the cause of death had never been challenged before. “That’s just the tradition and custom they’ve done before,” he said.
Police investigating Tims’ death found no evidence of foul play.