A Florida judge released some medical records of the conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh to prosecutors on Wednesday, allowing them to move forward in a long-stalled investigation into whether Mr. Limbaugh illegally bought painkillers.
The judge, Thomas H. Barkdull III of Circuit Court, returned other of Mr. Limbaugh's records to his lawyer, Roy Black, who had argued that some of the records contained privileged, even embarrassing, details about medical procedures, symptoms and other issues unrelated to the criminal investigation. None of the records' contents were revealed.
After the hearing, Mr. Black said he believed that the records given to the Palm Beach County state attorney's office would not support a criminal charge.
"The records show that Mr. Limbaugh received legitimate medical treatment for legitimate medical reasons," he said in a statement.
Mr. Limbaugh has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation, which became public in November 2003 after investigators used search warrants to seize his medical records. Prosecutors took the step after learning that Mr. Limbaugh received painkillers from four doctors in six months at a Palm Beach pharmacy near his home. They have said the records will prove that Mr. Limbaugh engaged in "doctor shopping," or illegally deceiving doctors to receive overlapping prescriptions.
The medical records have remained sealed since investigators seized them because Mr. Limbaugh appealed, arguing that the seizure violated his privacy rights. He lost at the circuit and appellate court levels, and the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The appeals, however, put off the investigation for more than 19 months.
"The review of those records now goes forward in earnest," the state attorney's office said in a statement. It declined further comment.
Mr. Limbaugh acknowledged an addiction to pain medication, and took a five-week leave from his radio show to enter a rehabilitation program in October 2003.
He has accused the Palm Beach County state attorney, Barry Krischer, a Democrat, of a politically motivated "fishing expedition."