By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 06, 2004 01:00 PM

Rush Limbaugh got a legal reprieve Monday when a West Palm Beach, Fla., judge allowed the conservative radio host’s medical records to remain sealed and unavailable to prosecutors for at least another 15 days while his legal team pursues an appeal to keep a permanent lid on them, the Associated Press reports.

Limbaugh’s lawyers had requested the extension — a 15-day stay in the case had been granted two weeks ago — as prosecutors seek to examine the files for evidence that Limbaugh, 52, illegally purchased painkillers and went “doctor shopping,” allegedly to stock up his medicine cabinet with pills.

Last month, investigators seized the records (from doctors in Florida and California) after discovering that Limbaugh received more than 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors, at a pharmacy near his $25- million Palm Beach mansion, says AP. Limbaugh’s former maid, who said she had been supplying him prescription painkillers for years, reportedly had tipped off the authorities.

Limbaugh admitted in October to a prescription-painkiller addiction, which he blamed on severe back pain. He then took a five-week leave from his show to enter a rehab treatment program.

Limbaugh’s attorneys argue that the seizure of the records violate Limbaugh’s privacy. They have also long maintained, as has Limbaugh on his show, that the investigation is politically motivated.

“It’s not really a question of wrongdoing. It’s a question of privacy rights in Florida,” attorney Mark Shapiro tells AP. He says the records include “the most private conversations between doctor and patient.”

Prosecutors have filed no charges against Limbaugh, and their probe has been put on ice until the court decides the ultimate fate of Limbaugh’s records.

Assistant State Attorney Jim Martz reportedly objects to the new delay, saying prosecutors wish to proceed with their criminal investigation.