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Attorney wants closed court for client's health-law case

Posted August 15, 2008

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— The case of a Raleigh man charged with a public health violation was continued Friday after his attorney said she does not want the matter heard in open court.

Joshua Waldon Weaver, 23, was arrested in April on charges stemming from North Carolina General Statute 130A-144 (f), which requires all people to comply with measures controlling communicable diseases, and North Carolina Administrative Code 10-41 A.02020 (1)(a)(e), which addresses control measures regarding HIV.

According to an arrest warrant, the alleged offenses ranged from Aug. 1, 2006, to the present. Weaver is out of jail on a $50,000 bond.

Weaver's attorney, Evonne Hopkins, tried to have a judge close proceedings Friday morning when Weaver was in court for what was to have been a plea deal with prosecutors. She said it is a sensitive matter and that exposing medical information might violate medical privacy laws.

"The Americans With Disabilities Act, HIPAA – I'm concerned about State Bar consequences. I am highly alarmed," Hopkins said. She referred to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a federal law that guards patients' privacy.

After several hours of delays and arguments, District Court Judge James Fullwood agreed to continue the case until next Friday.

"We recognize the sensitivity of this issue," Wake County Assistant District Attorney Boz Zellinger said. "We're not out to get anyone."

According to court documents, the Wake County Public Health Department reported Weaver to the district attorney's office.

Although she said she could not talk specifically about Weaver's case, director Gibby Harris said that, in general, the agency has a responsibility to monitor people with communicable diseases to make sure they don't spread them.

"Our intent is to change behavior," Harris said.

When a person is diagnosed with a communicable disease, such as HIV, health officials ask the person to supply a list of people they have had contact with so those people can be notified.

Harris said the patient is initially given an isolation/no-contact order not to spread the disease.

If they fail to comply, they are first warned, Harris said. Criminal charges are a last resort.

"If we see someone who just can't comply for one reason or another or just will not comply, then we do have the option of prosecuting that individual," Harris said.

Overall, there were 229 documented cases of HIV in Wake County last year, down 31 from 2006. Three-quarters of the patients were men.

11 Comments

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  • raceridentity Aug 21, 2008

    That is a very ignorant comment "thinkb4utype." the fact is, it is against the law to do what he did, and im sure he knew that. Yet he still chose to have sex with others without informing them of his deadly disease. He is very selfish, and I hope he gets what he deserves in the courtroom. The bottom line is, he is a murderer.

  • thinkb4utype Aug 18, 2008

    people should take responsibility for what happens to their own bodies, and not point fingers.

  • AX Aug 15, 2008

    I say allow no one in the court room

  • commonsensical Aug 15, 2008

    dwntwnboy: The issue is not that one is HIV positive, it's that one is going around and having sex - likely unprotected sex - with others without TELLING them ahead of time. Even though one has been told NOT to do so, and warned about the possibility of prosecution if they do so.

  • atozca Aug 15, 2008

    Overall, there were 229 documented cases of HIV in Wake County last year, down 31 from 2006. Three-quarters of the patients were men.

    Sad reality. That is why teens need to be educated about the consequences of their sexual choices. It isn't just about sex, it is about life and death, real consequences that change the dynamics of one's life.

  • edrhathaway Aug 15, 2008

    Does anyone know what he did?

  • howdiditgettothis Aug 15, 2008

    The article states: According to an arrest warrant, the alleged offenses ranged from Aug. 1, 2006, to the present. Weaver is out of jail on a $50,000 bond.

    If the accused has been breaking the law for two years, wouldn't you want him punished?

    I don't understand all the whining about his rights?

    If someone gave your son or daughter a communicable disease, (and a potentially fatal one at that) wouldn't you be enraged, particularly since he KNOWS he is doing wrong?

    Stop protecting the lawbreakers and think about the victims!

  • teacher-mom Aug 15, 2008

    If you do not have sex or blood transfusions, you do not need to be tested. Once you have been tested, and you get a negative report, you are probably safe.

  • dwntwnboy Aug 15, 2008

    This story has a bad backlash. It will scare people away from HIV testing for fear that if they do test positive, they could get in trouble. Testing is important and should be part of every physical every time. There is so much more to this story and I'm sure WRAL will do a FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act)filing when this goes to trial to get the complete picture....well, at least I hope they will.

  • twc Aug 15, 2008

    So what they are saying is, he can run free until he infects someone? So, who will his victim be? They cannot be warned without violating Weaver's rights?

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