Fully Informed Jury Association

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Jury Nullification | 16 Aug 2013

-Florida’s Future Richard Paeys Need Jurors Informed about Jury Nullification

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A report from RT America details the toll prescription pain killer regulation in Florida is taking on legitimate patients dealing with severe pain.

Florida pain patients become collateral damage during war on drugs

To combat prescription drug abuse, the state has tightened drug regulations, limiting the supply of pain medication that pharmacies and drug distributors are allowed to have in their inventory and making it more difficult for patients to obtain them.

Meredith Diaz, a 35-year-old mother who suffers from lupus, told Bloomberg News that she has trouble obtaining OxyContin, roxycodone and Xanax, which her doctors regularly prescribe to help control her pain and anxiety. The Tampa resident has herniated discs in her back, a knee that will soon need to be replaced and clinical anxiety. She fears the day that her drug supply will be cut off and said her life is much more difficult without her medicine.

This problem is not new, however. It brings to mind the 2004 conviction of Richard Paey, a wheelchair-bound multiple sclerosis patient who suffered severe back injury in a car accident, with the injury being further exacerbated by a botched surgery, leaving him in extreme chronic pain.

Unable in Florida’s draconian regulatory environment to get a doctor to prescribe the high doses of pain control medication he needed to control his extreme situation when he moved south, Paey had his former doctor in New Jersey send him undated prescriptions in the mail. Though he had no record of prior criminal offenses, Florida officials became suspicious about the amount of medication he was receiving and prosecuted Paey on 15 counts of possession and trafficking.

For prosecutors, the third time was the charm in convicting this harmless man simply trying to control his pain to a level where he could live a decent life. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, the second was thrown out due to a procedural error, and in his third trial, the jury only agreed to convict him after the jury foreman inaccurately assured them that he would only get probation. However, due to Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing rules, Paey was sentenced to 25 years in prison, where he was ultimately given a morphine pump to dispense similar or higher doses of pain medication than he was convicted of illegally obtaining outside of prison.

Upon hearing the entire story which had not reached the jury who convicted him, Governor Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet voted unanimously to grant Paey a full pardon.

As Florida’s pain medication regulation and penalties become increasingly abusive, it is critical to educate Florida residents about their right and responsibility to conscientiously acquit peaceful people whose only crime is to try to make their own bodies functional at a reasonably controlled level of pain.

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