Dukes' wife drops request for release of his medical records

By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published September 20, 2007

TAMPA - Elijah Dukes' estranged wife says she no longer wants his medical records turned over to her attorney.

"I think that this would be damaging to his career and that it would not benefit me," NiShea Gilbert, who is seeking a divorce from the inactive Devil Rays player, wrote in a letter to Dukes' attorney.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge J. Kevin Carey had set a deadline of 5 p.m. Tuesday for Dukes' attorney to give Catherine Real a copy of medical records from Dukes' stay at the Menninger Clinic in Houston.

Real, who is Gilbert's attorney, had planned to meet with her client Wednesday. She did not return a call for comment.

On Tuesday, Real told the Times she had not received the medical records but stopped short of calling it a violation of the court's order. She declined to elaborate.

Belinda Lazzara, Dukes' attorney, received an e-mail with a 3:13 p.m. timestamp from Gilbert on Tuesday. Gilbert asked Lazzara not to fax or mail Dukes' Menninger medical records.

Dukes, 23, was treated for mental issues and drug abuse at the clinic, his attorney has said. Real wants to know the extent of his evaluation and treatment and have an addictions specialist review the clinic records.

Real says the records are a key part in understanding Dukes' mental health as Gilbert and Dukes fight for custody of their two young children.

In her letter, Gilbert said she would notify Real of her decision.

"I am sending Catherine a letter today informing her that I just want to go to mediation to get this divorce over," Gilbert wrote.

Kevin Graham can be reached at 813 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com.