New York City authorities will not disclose the cause of death for Zachery Tims, the founding pastor of New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC), until a court decision is made regarding a challenge from Tims’ mother against the NYC medical examiner’s longstanding policy of making such information available to the public.
At the request of the Hon. Cynthia S. Kern, Ave Maria Brennan, Senior Counsel with the City’s Administrative Law Department, agreed that the medical examiner’s office would refrain from disclosing the cause and manner of Tims’ death until a decision had been reached.
In a hearing held in Kern’s chambers Wednesday morning in the New York State Supreme Court in lower Manhattan, attorney Ricardo E. Oquendo, Esq. and Brennan made their arguments concerning the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner’s decades-old practice of publicly disclosing the cause of death of individuals.
The City was sued on Oct. 7 by the pastor’s mother, who is the representative of Tims’ estate. Madeline Tims has legally challenged the medical examiners’ right to disclose such information, a practice that is neither expressly provided for nor prohibited by New York legislation, as was confirmed by both attorneys Wednesday.
“Nowhere is it written that the medical examiner is permitted or not permitted from disclosing cause of death upon public inquiry,” Brennan said in court. Kern is to decide whether Madeline Tims has grounds to challenge the procedure the city has been practicing for years. Until that decision is made, the public will not be informed about the cause of death, it was agreed.
Defendants listed in the case are: The City of New York; the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of the City of New York; Thomas Farley, M.D., as Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of the City of New York; the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner; and Charles S. Hirsch, M.D., as Chief Medical Examiner.