BC-JEBBUSHDAUGHTER-1st-LEDE:OR _ national (1060 words)
ORLANDO, Fla. _ A circuit judge Monday blocked Orlando police from questioning drug-center workers in a cocaine investigation of Noelle Bush, ruling that privacy laws take priority over law enforcement.
Praised by drug-treatment experts but criticized by prosecutors, the order by Orange Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry Jr. says federal confidentiality laws protect employees at the Center For Drug-Free Living from answering questions about reports that crack cocaine was found in the shoe of the governor's daughter.
The Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office immediately said it will appeal the decision.
In an 11-page ruling, Perry said privacy laws do not compel drug-treatment workers to testify in drug-possession cases.
Without that protection, the judge said, patients who suffer relapses could be hauled into criminal courts, undoing the good of diversion programs, such as drug court where Bush is enrolled.
"It is clearly the drug court's place to decide whether or not a …