LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Legislation Would Give Prosecutors Access to Medical Records for Defendants Accused of Not Informing Partners of HIV/AIDS Status

Lawmakers have introduced a bill that would allow prosecutors in New Jersey to have access to a defendant’s medical records if they’re accused of knowingly having HIV or AIDS and having unprotected sex with an unknowing partner. Assemblyman Jon Bramnick told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he supports the legislation.

Bramnick explained that in Somerset County, a defendant was charged with having sex with a partner even though he knew he had been infected with AIDS, which is a crime in New Jersey.

“What that meant was the prosecutor had to prove that this defendant had AIDS. The only way you can really do that is to get the records,” he said. “The prosecutor realized that you can’t get those records because there are laws against getting those records, even a prosecutor in a criminal prosecution unless it’s a first degree. So the assemblyman [Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli] along with Sen. Bateman, they introduced a bill to make the law which would be reasonable if you’re charged with a crime the state can get your records.”

Bramnick expects bipartisan support for the bill. “This really isn’t a privacy issue. We do not want people in other people’s medical records. But if you’re accused of committing this kind of crime, why shouldn’t the state in a limited situation be able to obtain those records to show a jury you’ve been diagnosed, you knew it, you went to the hospital and now you possibly gave it to someone else? I don’t think there’s gonna be a problem across the aisle on this bill,” he said.

According to Bramnick, the legislation will be on the front burner in both the Senate and Assembly when they get back in session. “You can’t let someone escape the law because of a loophole which is unintended,” he said.

With seven weeks until election day, Bramnick said he’s still optimistic that Republicans can regain control of the Assembly. “I think the public is ready to give the Republicans a chance to lead in the legislature. They like what the governor’s doing. We’re gonna be on that same page — more jobs, less taxes, smaller government,” he said. “Try the Republican formula this time.”

Bramnick said he believes Republicans can be victorious in districts where they were close in the last election. “With the governor’s popularity and with the failure of a decade of Democratic rule in the legislature were the two areas we feel pretty comfortable about,” he said.

While some polls have shown New Jerseyans aren’t pleased with Gov. Chris Christie’s performance on economic issues, Bramnick said most people in the state believe the governor is doing a good job and that New Jersey is on the right track. “That’s a far cry from when Corzine was the governor,” he said. “I trust the public. The public thinks he’s doing a great job. I think he’s doing a great job.”

Bramnick said now is the time for Republicans to take control. “They [Democrats] had a shot. They didn’t do a good job. Give us a shot. I think they’ll be happy,” he said.