Murderer gets 30 years for fatal stabbing, claims jail is violating medical privacy rights

A Minneapolis man sentenced to 30 years in prison on Thursday for a brutal stabbing death earlier this year also filed a lawsuit claiming the Hennepin County Jail violated his medical privacy rights while in custody. 

A jury found Derek Leake guilty of second-degree murder in October for the slaying of Bobby Commodore on board a Metro Transit bus in Uptown on April 24. Leake has an extremely troubled past as a registered violent offender for prior convictions and will soon head back to prison.

At his sentencing, Leake offered something of an apology to the court and Commodore’s loved ones gathered in the gallery.

"I am sorry I don’t have the opportunity to do that day over again," said Leake. "And I am very sorry a man lost his life."

The Commodore family, having sat through Leake’s trial, saw a cold-blooded, premeditated attack in the evidence.

The victim’s sister Lynette Commodore said, "I believe the defendant recognized and sought to harm and even kill my brother when he was walking down that bus aisle to his seat."

As he prepares to leave Hennepin County jail for the state prison system, Leake raised concerns about inmate privacy violations that allegedly occurred while being locked up. He filed a lawsuit on his own without an attorney in December. Legal experts, who have read his civil complaint, told FOX 9 his allegations of jailhouse medical privacy violations warrant some attention.

Leake claims in the court filing that he and other inmates have had their medical privacy rights, or what’s known as HIPAA, violated in the downtown Minneapolis lock-up. He is asking for $25,000 in damages.

"Folks who are sitting in the Hennepin County jail, in the eyes of the law, should be treated as closely as possible to folks who are outside," explained Twin Cities trial attorney A.L. Brown.

Leake claims in his paperwork that on a couple of occasions, Sheriff’s jailhouse staff announced on the in-house PA system, "My Suboxone friends, get to the front of the line" when medication was handed out.

Suboxone is a controlled substance that addicts may be prescribed for withdrawal symptoms and used to help wean people off opioids. Leake writes not only did the announcement out his potential medical condition, but it also puts a target on his back as it would be a drug in high demand behind bars.

Brown, who has read Leake’s filings but is not involved in the matter, explained that even a convicted murderer like Leake appears to have a decent argument to make in civil court.

"He is still a person," said Brown. "He is still a United States citizen, and he is still a Minnesotan. And there is nothing in the law that excludes him from his rights to privacy. And there's no good reason to do so."

Brown told FOX 9’s Paul Blume, the manner in which Leake framed his lawsuit will likely get it tossed out, but again believes if the allegations can be proven, they likely add up to a violation of the state’s health records act.

Leake’s lawsuit was assigned to a Hennepin County judge, but no court dates have yet been put on the calendar.

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s office will not comment on pending litigation.