This story is so bizarre and outrageous, I can hardly believe it's true.
Tampa's Mark O'Hara was released from prison this week. He was serving a 25-year sentence for possession of 58 Vicodin tablets. Prosecutors acknowledge he wasn't selling the drug. They acknowledge that he had a prescription for it. At his trial, two doctors testified they'd been treating O'Hara since the early 1990s for pain related to gout and an automobile accident.
But prosecutors inexplicably brought drug trafficking charges anyway, because as the article explains, "Under the law, simply possessing the quantity of pills he had constitutes trafficking."
This is simply stunning. The man was sentenced to 25 years for possessing 58 pills for which he had a legal prescription.
Prosecutors then argued—and the trial court agreed—that the jury was not allowed to consider the fact that O'Hara had a prescription because Florida statutes governing painkillers don't allow for a "prescription defense," as if that rather crucial fact were some mere technicality those ACLU-types are always using to get criminals off the hook.
I suppose we should expect little from the state that put Richard Paey away for 25 years. But this is insanity. My guess is that O'Hara's prior drug conviction (in the 1980s) and the small amount of pot also found in his truck blinded the prosecutors' and judge's discretion. Gotta' get this guy for something, right?
O'Hara is free after an appellate court rightly deemed the trial "absurd" and tossed out the verdict. Prosecutors are apparently still considering what to do next.
Given the way they've wasted taxpayer money and court time and needlessly harassed Mr. O'Hara, in a just world their "next step" would be submitting their own letters of resignation.
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