Nonsense, Absurd, Ridiculous, Inexplicable
I have to agree with Radley Balko, this is just insane.
TAMPA – Mark O’Hara left jail without handcuffs Wednesday, two years after he went to prison and one week since an appeals court ordered him a new trial.
He was serving a 25-year sentence for having 58 Vicodin pills in his bread truck. Jurors weren’t told that it is legal to possess the drug with a prescription, which he had.
Yep, you read that right, a man went to prison for over 2 years on a 25 year sentence for having prescription drugs for which he had a prescription. What was he guilty of? Good question; drug trafficking.
The opinion faulted prosecutors’ claims that Florida statutes do not allow a “prescription defense” in drug trafficking cases.
Using words like “absurd” and “ridiculous,” three appellate judges said the state’s position would make patients with valid prescriptions criminals as soon as they left the drugstore.
Tampa airport police arrested O’Hara in August 2004 after they found the hydrocodone and a small amount of marijuana in his illegally parked and unattended bread truck.
He refused plea agreements from prosecutors before trial, one for three years in prison.
Ahhh there we go, refused plea agreements. Apparently that seems to be the tactic of prosecutors these days: offer a plea deal, if it is refused go for the maximum and pile on as many charges as possible. It is really kind of smarmy, and one reason why I think so lowly of prosecutors, since it is a strong arm tactic to coerce citizens not to exercise their right to a jury trial.
Prosecutors did not contend that O’Hara, who went to prison in the 1980s for cocaine trafficking, sold any of the 80 Vicodin pills he had been prescribed in the eight months before his arrest. Under the law, simply possessing the quantity of pills he had constitutes trafficking.
Seems to me that every elderly person in Florida is a drug trafficker. The fact that 99.9% probably have a prescription is irrelevant to Florida prosecutors and so they should all be rounded up and sent to prison for 25 years.
There is more here,
The trial and conviction so confounded the 2nd District Court of Appeal that Chief Judge Stevan Northcutt must have rushed to his thesaurus. In calling for a new trial, he described the state’s arguments in words like “unreasonable” and “ridiculous” and “absurd.” Here’s another: inexplicable.
Two doctors testified at the trial that they had prescribed the pills for pain from gout and an automobile accident, and no one claimed he was selling the pills. But Ober’s attorneys and Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta stopped jurors from being told that the law specifically exempts those who have legally prescribed pills.
Interesting…so when O’hara was in prison what did they give him for his gout and pain?
O’Hara is only the latest victim of Florida’s schizophrenic drug laws. Richard Paey, a Pasco man who suffers debilitating back pain from an auto accident and botched surgery, is also serving 25 years for possessing larger quantities of prescription pain killers. In Paey’s case, Gov. Charlie Crist is being asked to consider clemency, which common decency would dictate.
Florida sure is doing a bang up job of taking away the Crown for the Most Idiotic from California. In fact, they might already have it. Florida: Home of the Stupid.
Update: In comments John Burgess argues that not everybody in Florida is stupid. This is true, just as not everyone in California is stupid either. Still we do some damnable dumb things in this state. But John does point to one thing that clearly settles the issue of which state is more dopey; Florida does have a “must issue” law when it comes to firearms and licenses. Of course, saying “Well, we don’t have laws quite as dopey as California,” isn’t much to brag about.