The Drug War Chronicle notes that last week the jury foreman in Virginia pain doctor William Hurwitz's drug trafficking case conceded that the man he and his fellow jurors convicted was not, strictly speaking, guilty. "No, he wasn't running a criminal enterprise," jury foreman Ralph Craft told The Washington Post. Rather, said Craft, Hurwitz was a "sloppy" doctor who was trying to help patients but should have been more careful in prescribing painkillers.
Yet as the Post reminds us, "The 12-member jury convicted Hurwitz…on 50 drug-trafficking counts, including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and trafficking resulting in death and serious injury." He now faces a possible life sentence, largely because the jury did not understand the difference between medical carelessness (a civil matter they were not supposed to be judging) and deliberate diversion of narcotics to the black market (the criminal question they were ostensibly considering).
There's plenty of blame to go around in this case; the DEA, the prosecutors, and the judge all deserve their share. But let's not forget the jurors, who could have avoided the unjust outcome, which is bound to have a chilling effect on pain treatment, simply by doing their job properly.