Shaky Conviction


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.

NEXT: Unhappy Hour

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  1. Who was the moron who said “Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six?”

  2. Look, I’m as against the WOD as the next guy here, but to leave this WaPo bit, or to not even acknowledge this aspect of the verdict in your blurb, is no better than the underreporting of news we hate in the New York Times.

    “”The dosages were just astounding,” foreman Ralph Craft said of testimony that Hurwitz prescribed 1,600 pills a day to one patient and that his dosages caused the deaths of several patients and seriously injured others.”

    That’s a little more than “sloppy doctor.” I expect more of Hit & Run.

  3. The juror was the one with the “sloppy doctor” accusation, not the blogger. The blog pointed out that the jury convicted the man while the foreman stated that he wasn’t guilty of the crime he was convicted of. That’s exactly what I would expect of Hit & Run.

  4. Any grounds for an appeal?

  5. If there’s blame going around for a jury not understanding a serious charge against the defendant, the defendant’s counsel ought to bear most of it.

  6. This is one super duper site3

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