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Attorneys dig in their heels in ND addiction counselor's case for hindering patient's arrest

BISMARCK—Defense and prosecuting attorneys are giving no ground in the case of a licensed addiction counselor charged with hindering Bismarck police in a methadone patient's arrest.

Kiki Schatz, who works at Heartview Foundation in Bismarck, is accused of misdemeanor hindering law enforcement for refusing police entry to the treatment center to arrest Brendan Kapfer for allegedly violating a domestic violence protection order. Schatz invoked Part 2 of Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which provides confidentiality for patients seeking treatment for addiction.

At a hearing last week on defense attorney Tom Dickson's motion to dismiss, South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland questioned the Fourth Amendment's application in the matter.

In post-hearing briefs submitted Thursday, Dickson and Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney Karlei Neufeld dug in their heels over the circumstances at play when Schatz denied entry to police to arrest Kapfer, who was eventually taken into custody in Heartview that day.

"With all due respect, the federal confidentiality requirements trump the state statutes relied upon by the state to justify their illegal search and seizure at Heartview," Dickson wrote.

"The patients of Heartview have an expectation of privacy within the non-public and locked confines of Heartview. That expectation of privacy is protected by the Fourth Amendment and by federal law. Kiki Schatz had the duty and obligation to protect those rights."

Neufeld argued that police were in "hot pursuit" of Kapfer, who she said "did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy within Heartview." Therefore, no Fourth Amendment violation, according to Neufeld.

She also posited that the defense offered no proof that 42 CFR applied to Heartview, while police did not ask for patient information.

Kurt Snyder, Heartview's executive director, said there is public access to Heartview, such as the treatment center's administrative offices and main entrance reception, but restricted access in other places. Visitors who may interact with patients inside Heartview must sign a confidentiality form.

Heartview's short-term residential facility is locked from outside, while the opioid treatment clinic — where Schatz met police in a vestibule — is open for a few hours each morning but only to patients and authorized personnel, as noted on a door.

Few arrests have happened in recent memory at Heartview, according to Snyder, who noted Kapfer's and that of another patient who was arrested immediately outside, and who, in "a strange set of circumstances," went to treatment with the officer.

"The officer was really trying to do a nice thing for the individual," Snyder said.

Feland has yet to rule on Dickson's motion. Schatz is set for a pretrial conference on Oct. 15.

A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 17 before Feland at the Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismarck.