Court backlog delays release of Zachery Tims’ cause of death

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By Jeff Kunerth| Orlando Sentinel
 The ruling by a New York judge that the city’s Medical Examiner can release the cause of death of Apopka megachurch preacher Zachery Tims could take weeks to become official — giving Tims’ family plenty of time to prepare an appeal.

The attorney for Madeline Tims, the mother of the New Destiny Christian Center preacher, said today no decision has been made on whether to appeal the decision by Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge Cynthia S. Kern. On Monday, Kern ruled the Medical Examiner’s office has the legal right to release Tims’ cause of death while keeping his autopsy and toxicology report private.

“I don’t agree with the decision,” said attorney Richardo Oquendo. “We are analyzing and assessing the merits of a possible appeal.”

An appeal, along with a request to stay Kern’s decision, would keep the cause of death sealed for at least another year, Oquendo said.

Kern’s ruling must be entered by the clerk of court’s office. However, the backlog of rulings waiting to be recorded makes it unlikely that it will happen before the New Year.

“It could take weeks. It can sometimes take a month to get a decision entered,” Oquendo said.

The New York City Attorney’s office issued a statement today that because of the holidays the Tims family would be given 30 days to file an appeal and seek a stay of Kern’s decision.

Tims, 42, died in a New York City hotel room in August of undetermined causes. Police ruled out foul play, but there were reports that an envelope containing a white power was found in the preacher’s pants pocket.

Madeline Tims’ suit, filed in October, argued that the release of the cause of death would be embarrassing to her and his children.


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