12/24/2003 at 12:00 AM EST
Rush Limbaugh can calm down for a while: On Wednesday, Christmas Eve, Palm Beach (Fla.) Circuit Judge Jeffrey A. Winikoff resealed the radio host's medical records to allow the conservative commentator's attorneys time to appeal a Tuesday decision that would have permitted prosecutors to examine them for evidence that Limbaugh illegally purchased painkillers.
The jurist ordered the records to remain sealed for another 15 days, reports the Associated Press. On Tuesday, Winikoff had ruled that prosecutors could sift through the records but could not make them public.
It is not known if prosecutors were able to begin opening the files, notes the news service, but Winikoff's first decision did prompt Limbaugh to rant vehemently against purportedly left-wing conspirators on his radio show Tuesday.
"I guess it's payback time," Limbaugh, 52, fumed over the airwaves, as quoted by AP. "The Democrats in this country still cannot defeat me in the arena of political ideas, and so now they are trying to do so in the court of public opinion and the legal system."
Palm Beach County prosecutors had argued that they needed access to the records to determine the extent to which Limbaugh's doctors knew about his frequent prescriptions for OxyContin, hydrocodone and other painkillers, and whether he was "doctor shopping" – i.e., looking for a physician willing to prescribe drugs illegally, or getting prescriptions for a single drug from more than one doctor at the same time, notes AP.
Limbaugh, who on his show used to make routine demands that drug users receive automatic jail sentences, has admitted to an addiction to prescription painkillers, and earlier this year spent five weeks at a treatment center before returning to the air.
While Limbaugh's attorney, Roy Black, said Tuesday that he would appeal Winikoff's ruling, prosecutor Barry Krischer dismissed Limbaugh's allegations that the medical probe is politically motivated, reports AP.