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death of scalia

Texas judge says Justice Scalia was in poor health, had heart problems

When Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, was found dead in his room at the Cibolo Creek Ranch in West Texas on Saturday, Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara pronounced him dead over the phone — allowed under Texas law — and did not order an autopsy. On Monday, she explained why.

Before concluding that Scalia had died of natural causes, probably a heart attack, Guevara told The Associated Press, she had talked with Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez and a U.S. marshal, Ken Roberts, both of whom had seen the body and ruled out foul play. She also spoke with Scalia's doctor, "Dr. Monahan," she said, and he told her the Supreme Court justice had a history of heart trouble and high blood pressure, and had just been ruled too weak to undergo surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder.

Rear Adm. Brian P. Monahan, attending physician for Scalia and other members of the Supreme Court, plus Congress, refused to confirm any details about Scalia's health to The Washington Post on Monday, saying that "patient confidentiality forbids me to make any comment on the subject," then hanging up.

John Poindexter, the owner of the luxury resort, said Scalia was one of some 35 weekend guests, had gone to bed at about 9 p.m., citing his desire for a good night's sleep, and was found "in complete repose" in his room on Saturday morning after he didn't show up for breakfast. Guevara said some other people at Cibolo Creek Ranch had told her Scalia mentioned not feeling well, but other friends said that in recent weeks the late justice had seemed in good health and great spirits.