The Ottumwa Courier

February 3, 2014

Iowa county won't release stun gun incident info

Ottumwa Courier

---- — DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Muscatine County officials are refusing to release the medical records of a woman who was shocked with a stun gun four times last fall as officers tried to get her to change clothing.

The woman, Marie Franks, has asked officials to release the records to the Des Moines Register ( ), but so far officials have refused.

Video of the incident shows Franks cursing at jail staff and swinging her arms apparently to keep jail staff away. She was shocked four times in eight minutes during the Oct. 7 incident. Muscatine County officials have said no laws were broken and jail policies were followed.

Franks, 58, suffers from bipolar disorder and was off her medication at the time. The records should show what medication she was given in jail. County officials have said Franks refused to take medication jail officials offered her.

Franks was initially jailed for repeatedly calling 911 but refusing to talk to dispatchers, but she was charged with assaulting an officer on Oct. 4 while she was in jail.

Franks has submitted two different notarized requests for the records since November.

Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren has offered technical reasons for rejecting the records requests. He said the first request was flawed because it included the signature of Franks' father, Ken Beeding, and suggested he was acting as his daughter's legal representative. The second request was rejected because of an incorrect date.

"It's not for me to say what Ms. Franks' best interests are, but it is for me to say as a lawyer and as an officer of the court to make sure we're not just trampling on someone's rights here," Ostergren said.

Beeding said he's frustrated with the repeated denials of access to his daughter's records. He has cared for Franks for the past 25 years.

Two law school professors at Drake University say the records should be released.

"She has a legal right to these documents and she can give them to anyone she pleases," law professor Sally Frank said.

Ostergren told Franks last week that he won't release the records to her because her father is in the process of becoming her legal guardian even though nothing has been filed in court yet.

Drake professor Bob Rigg said the records denial shouldn't be based on a guardianship order that hasn't been filed yet.

"At this point in time, she's presumed to be competent until a court rules otherwise," Rigg said.


Information from: The Des Moines Register,