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March 2007
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Cruel and Disgusting

Maia Szalavitz does a great job of keeping the Richard Paey travesty in view (something lacking in the mainstream media). The latest news is that the Florida Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal (a story that appears to only have been covered so far in the Bradenton Herald and Tampa Bay’s 10).
Maia puts it all in perspective in her article Cruel and Disgusting: Pain Patient Appeal Denied. She does a great job of reminding us just how unjust this 25 year sentence is:

The Florida Court of Appeals had upheld his conviction– despite the lack of evidence of trafficking and despite the fact that most of weight of the substances he was convicted of possessing (higher weights lead to longer sentences) was made up of Tylenol, not narcotics. The majority suggested that Paey seek clemency from the governor, claiming that his plea for mercy “does not fall on deaf ears, but it falls on the wrong ears.”
In a jeremiad of a dissent, Judge James Seals called the sentence “illogical, absurd, unjust and unconstitutional,” noting that Paey “could conceivably go to prison for a longer stretch for peacefully but unlawfully purchasing 100 oxycodone pills from a pharmacist than had he robbed the pharmacist at knife point, stolen fifty oxycodone pills which he intended to sell to children waiting outside, and then stabbed the pharmacist.”
But the Florida Supreme Court disagreed, letting the sentence stand, without comment. It released its cowardly decision in the media quiet of a Friday night. As Siobhan Reynolds, founder of the Pain Relief Network points out, “Where Florida stands now is that individuals have no recourse to the courts when the executive and legislative branches behave tyranically.” Under the Constitution, the role of the judiciary is supposed to be to check the powers of the other branches– not simply to defer to them.

Paey must now look to the U.S. Supreme Court or Governor Crist.

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