Circuit Judge Tegan Slaton is currently hospitalized on the mainland, but he remains in his judicial race, his friend and campaign manager said this week.
Key West attorney Robert Cintron discussed incumbent Slaton's status for the 16th Judicial Circuit (Monroe County) after the judge, 56, took a voluntary medical leave of absence shortly after being removed from the bench earlier this month.
That leave came two months after Slaton fell asleep on the bench during a child relocation hearing, for which he blamed on his ongoing medical issues and the sleep-inducing drug Ambien. Slaton had been recently prescribed the medication.
"There is a lot of confusion right now, but the bottom line is this: Tegan Slaton is still a candidate up for re-election, and as of right now he has no intention of withdrawing from the race," Cintron said. "He's currently hospitalized for multiple medical issues."
Cintron added he would not discuss the specifics of Slaton's medical issues.
"And he's not going to turn over his medical records," Cintron went on. "He doesn't have an obligation to do so, and the law does not require him to do so. He has confidentiality to his medical records in that regard, and at this point he is going to exercise that confidentiality."
That issue came up at the Hometown PAC forum Monday when one of the panelists mentioned Slaton's absence and asked the other two candidates -- Upper Keys attorney Jack Bridges, 46, and Key West attorney Bonnie Helms, 49 -- about their medical histories.
Both responded that a judge's health as far as being able to serve and work is important. Neither asked for Slaton specifically to turn over his medical records. However, both said they would turn over their records if asked.
"I respect Bonnie and Jack for responding, but they did not bring it up," Cintron said. "They have a right, if they want, to disclose their medical records, but nobody has a right to insist someone else turn over their medical records."
Cintron added he advised Slaton not to discuss his medical issues with anyone other than his doctors and Cintron himself. Slaton has not been campaigning due to his health.
"If anyone wants to be angry with him because I've advised him to focus on his medical issues and his doctors ... I'm sorry this happened in the middle of a campaign, but as I've said before, his health is the only thing that is important to me," Cintron said.
Cintron said he has discussed with the judge the possibility of dropping his campaign for the judge's post.
"We have discussed the notion of withdrawing," Cintron said, but the judge opted to remain a candidate.