Friday, September 21, 2007

Fla. pardons MS patient

A disabled MS patient in Florida was convicted on drugs charges after forging prescriptions for large quantities of pain meds. Prosecutors argued he must have been selling the drugs because of the quantities involved, but presented no evidence of actual sales. A judge bound by a mandatory-minimum law sentenced Richard Paey to 25 years in prison. After 4 hours in prison, Governor Charlie Crist pardoned Paey. Snip from the AP article:
Paey and his supporters have argued that he never distributed any drugs — that he purchased and consumed huge amounts on his own for constant pain. Paey has been debilitated by a 1985 car accident, suffers from multiple sclerosis, and uses a wheelchair.

He refused to accept a plea because he didn't want to be branded a drug dealer.

The case illustrates flaws in the law and how people who are dependent on strong pain medication can get tangled up in the government's effort to combat drugs, Paey's attorney, John Flannery of Leesburg, Va., said. Because of mandatory minimum sentences, the judge in Paey's case had no choice but the 25-year sentence after he was conviction.

The board — Crist, State Attorney Bill McCollum, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson — voted unanimously to approve Paey's release, overriding the recommendation of the parole commission that his application be denied.

State Attorney Bernie McCabe, whose office prosecuted Paey, said he had no reaction to the news.

This kind of thing really makes me crazy. There's lots to rant about in this story--our insane approach to drug policy and crime in general, limitless prosecutorial discretion--but today, I choose to rejoice, because after everyone else in the system failed Richard Paey, the last little safety valve in the system actually worked. Huzzah.


mdmhvonpa said...

The system worked ... more or less, because those outside of State Attorney Bernie McCabe's influence chose to apply the spirit of the law and not the letter of the law.

Problem is that with today's 'sue-em till they bleed' mentality, anyone without a copious reserve of power and influence will surely suffer for this approach.

The man did wrong, but only as a last ditch effort. I suppose he could have moved to Alaska where the pot laws are bit more lax ... or become a radio talk-show host ... but I digress.

Stephen said...

right on. let's hope this precedent doesn't get abused, like the twinkie defense.