Heads of Bismarck police and Heartview Foundation say their relationship remains strong after a judge dismissed a criminal case against a licensed addiction counselor.
On Tuesday, South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland dismissed misdemeanor hindering police charged against Heartview counselor Kiki Schatz.
Schatz was charged after refusing police entry in the vestibule of Heartview's opioid treatment program clinic to arrest a man who had arrived for dosing. She invoked Part 2 of Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which provides confidentiality for patients seeking treatment for addiction.
Feland dismissed the case on grounds of the Fourth Amendment, as officers had no search or arrest warrant for the private area within Heartview:
"As an individual subject to personal liability for violation of a patient's confidentiality, Schatz had reasonable expectation that the OTP clinic would be free from any intrusion and that she could not be forced by law enforcement to allow entry absent a search warrant," Feland wrote.
Kurt Snyder, Heartview's executive director, said he was pleased for the case to be dismissed from what he said was an "unfortunate circumstance" involving Schatz.
"We always felt like she was trying to do the right thing," said Snyder, who added the case could be a learning tool for Heartview and police.
The two entities will likely meet to discuss the case and its circumstances, Snyder and Bismarck Police Deputy Chief Randy Ziegler said. Ziegler added that he and Snyder have briefly discussed the case and will probably do so again.
"We do have a good relationship with Heartview, and I want to keep it that way moving forward," Ziegler said.
At the heart of the case was 42 CFR, which Ziegler said police rarely encounter.
Pam Crawford, an attorney who has counseled Heartview on 42 CFR, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and other compliance, said she hopes there's more public awareness of 42 CFR in the wake of Schatz's case.
"It's rare because most of the public is aware of HIPAA because it covers every health care facility, whereas 42 CFR is very specific to addiction treatment, and so there isn't a lot of public awareness," Crawford said.
Snyder and Ziegler each said they're ready to move beyond the case.
"At the end of the day, we’re excited to get this behind us and to sit down and work with the police department to put our relationship in a better position yet," Snyder said.