Drug Policy

Prosecutors Refuse To Drop Charges in Florida Vicodin Case

|


Remember Mark O'Hara, the Florida man who was absurdly convicted of possessing 58 Vicodin pills, despite the fact that he had a legal prescription for them? A Florida appeals court called the conviction "ridiculous," the prosecutors' argument that there is no "prescription defense" in Florida "absurd," ordered O'Hara a new trial, and had him released from prison, where he'd been for two years.

Well, prosecutors have decided they're going to try him again.

The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office has decided not to drop charges against Mark O'Hara, who was freed from prison after an appeals court said he deserved a new trial.

O'Hara's lawyer, Ira Berman, angrily stormed out of the courthouse after a brief 8:30 a.m. hearing before Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ronald Ficarrotta.

"It's quite a shame," Berman said. "Quite a pitiful shame. End of story. End of statement."

O'Hara, 45, dressed in a white-button down shirt and a pink tie, said he could not comment on the case.

A group of residents calling themselves "We the People Florida" walked out of court after O'Hara's hearing. The group's leader, Bill Trudelle, said they wanted to send a message to Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober.

I can't help but wonder how they're going to try him for drug trafficking if the jury will this time be allowed to hear that he had a valid prescription for the pills (there was no evidence he sold or distributed the pills presented at the initial trial). Police also found a misdemeanor amount of marijuana in O'Hara's truck, but it's hard to see why they'd go to the trouble of a new trial for that, given that O'Hara has already served two years.

Perhaps this time, the appeals court will consider slapping the prosecutors with sanctions, and telling them once and for all to leave this guy alone. Seems like that's the only thing that will get some of these prosecutors to start showing better judgment.