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Paeykillers
November 20, 2007 11:58 PM   Subscribe

Richard Paey Speaks - An interview with the paraplegic man sentenced to 25 years in prison for treating his own pain, but now out after a full pardon by the Florida Governor. posted by daksya (42 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
While in prison, the state of Florida paid for a morphine pump that administered painkillers to Paey at rates higher than what the state convicted him of for possessing in the first place.

That is so fucking messed up.
posted by item at 12:07 AM on November 21, 2007


Morphine is a controlled, not banned, substance, so not really. Not to piss on your cloud.
posted by dreamsign at 12:15 AM on November 21, 2007


dreamsign, we all pray that you will come down with MS, have a serious car accident followed by botched back surgery, and then be convicted and sentenced to prison for 25 years (and abused by guards therein) after overzealous sheriffs and prosecutors decide that your lawfully obtained prescriptions are excessive. Not to piss on your cloud or anything...
posted by metaplectic at 12:44 AM on November 21, 2007


...the paraplegic man sentenced to 25 years in prison for treating his own pain...

That'll teach the fuckers for getting MS.
posted by Avenger at 1:01 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a little misleading to write "treating his own pain," when in fact Paey was under the care of a physician who prescribed painkillers to him. The physician was lied to by law enforcement (they said Paey was selling his meds) and threatened with prosecution, so that he disclaimed writing the prescriptions and accused Paey of forging them. Even after his doctor recanted this, the prosecution went forward anyway (on the grounds that the six months between Paey's last examination and his prescription was too long), and Paey was convicted, etc.
posted by metaplectic at 1:13 AM on November 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


metaplectic, well can't say I've ever been wished an illness for straightening out a bit of tortured logic before. FWIW, I think the "war on drugs" is a farce (need I even say this?) and I'm on record as supporting just about every kind of palliative care up to and including euthanasia if that's what it takes to restore dignity and personal choice and handle pain.

Not that any of that matters, or should have to be said, since I in no way endorsed an opposite point of view. Maybe time to cut down on your own dosage, metaplectic.
posted by dreamsign at 1:34 AM on November 21, 2007


dreamsign, we all pray that you will come down with MS

WTF, metaplectic? dreamsign's statement was perfectly accurate and doesn't take anything away from Paey or his mistreatment that I can see. If you think it was incorrect, then correct it but your remark was uncalled for.

Apparently, Paey was living in Florida and his scrips were being issued by a doctor in New Jersey. Even in countries that don't have America's weird obsession with pain meds, that fact would set alarm bells ringing. He wouldn't go to jail for it anywhere else though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:46 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


The logic was perfectly straight already, so your comment made no sense, and it did come off sympathetic to the overzealous drug warriors. Paey was convicted of possessing legally prescribed painkillers, and then he was given stronger painkillers in prison. That is totally fucked up. Maybe I did overreact to your mis-informed snark, but you should try RTFA before posting next time.
posted by metaplectic at 1:50 AM on November 21, 2007


Dreamsign: I'm failing to see how item's quote isn't "so fucking messed up". That morphine is legal in some contexts and not others is irrelevant; Paey was getting his medication in ways that are legal. It was the witch hunt we call the drug war that let the facts be skewed so as to send him to jail.

I'll accept that you're opposed to the drug war just like us; but I don't see how item's statement (assuming thats what you were responding to) in any way necessitates the assumption that morphine and other narcotics are banned.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 1:52 AM on November 21, 2007


what a heart warming story ,only to be fucked up by metafilter wankers
posted by baker dave at 1:53 AM on November 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


That'll teach the fuckers for getting MS.

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that Paey wasn't diagnosed as having MS until after his arrest or conviction. While it doesn't make his treatment any more unreasonable, I suspect that diagnosis made all the difference in his getting the pump.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:56 AM on November 21, 2007


Well after the alarm bells went off and they surveilled Paey for three months and talked to his doctor, it should have been clear to the drug warriors that they had no reason to bring a case. Instead they lied and twisted arms to push through the conviction anyway. So, how do you justify dreamsign's assertion that this is "no, not really" fucked up? Can you people read and think?
posted by metaplectic at 2:00 AM on November 21, 2007


Morphine is a controlled, not banned, substance, so not really.

I think the concern was more about the irony of receiving more of a controlled substance while incarcerated by the state, than when not incarcerated, particularly when the victim was convicted for crimes related to that same controlled substance.

Which is to say, the problem isn't whether morphine is controlled or banned, but that the state takes seemingly and alternatively violent, contradictory and arbitrary views about the context of its use.

When someone responds by saying, "That is so fucking messed up," my estimation is that this is in response to the irrational nature of such policy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 AM on November 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well after the alarm bells went off and they surveilled Paey for three months and talked to his doctor, it should have been clear to the drug warriors that they had no reason to bring a case.

I don't think it's ever justifiable to bring these cases, but looked at from the logic of the DEA, I guess you've got a patient who lives hundred of miles away from his doctor, who appears to have been issued with a stack of undated scrips that he appears to be able to issue himself. Then you've got the doctor's flip-flopping on the issue of whether they were legitimately prescribed or not.

What's most shameful about this case is Paey's inability to get decent treatment from a doctor where he lives. The conviction is one of those fucked up things that arise when you've got to do weird stuff to try and ensure continuity of supply.

So, how do you justify dreamsign's assertion that this is "no, not really" fucked up?

If had he been in prison and *not* getting the treatment that he needed, that would have been fucked up. His conviction was fucked up. But the fact that he'd been unreasonably convicted and was then getting adequately treated seems to me to be the least fucked up thing about this whole business.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:12 AM on November 21, 2007


PeterMcDermott: But the fact that he'd been unreasonably convicted and was then getting adequately treated seems to me to be the least fucked up thing about this whole business.

The 'fucked up' point is that the government doctors validated a stronger treatment regimen as appropriate after he was incarcerated for essentially skepticism over the same thing by prosecutors beforehand.

doctor's flip-flopping on the issue

He flipped once after the lie by LEO about Paey selling his meds. And then he recanted on the stand. Your phrasing makes it sounds like the doctor changed his stance many times.
posted by daksya at 2:27 AM on November 21, 2007


The 'fucked up' point is that the government doctors validated a stronger treatment regimen as appropriate after he was incarcerated for essentially skepticism over the same thing by prosecutors beforehand.

Yeah, I see that's Blazecock Pileon's reading of the statement as well. What I was complaining about was metaplectic's response to dreamsign's response to a statement that was at best ambiguous. Surely the sensible response to such matters is to resolve the ambiguity, not to tell someone to go die in a fucking grease fire or whatever.

He flipped once after the lie by LEO about Paey selling his meds.

Flip.

And then he recanted on the stand.

Flop.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:40 AM on November 21, 2007


Not to piss on your cloud.

I don't see why you're all "oh poor poor dreamsign" about it. He/she asked for a slapdown, and got it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:00 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


If had he been in prison and *not* getting the treatment that he needed, that would have been fucked up. His conviction was fucked up. But the fact that he'd been unreasonably convicted and was then getting adequately treated seems to me to be the least fucked up thing about this whole business.

Well that's a good point. I guess the prison doctors' giving Paey morphine in prison was a blessing then, albeit a fucking ironic one, leaving every other part of the case fucking messed up (except the pardon). The morphine pump may even have made it more politically expedient for the governor to pardon Paey. Can you imagine if the prison doctors had been prevented from giving him pain medication? He might have wound up dead or insane by now.
posted by metaplectic at 3:06 AM on November 21, 2007


So what happens to the law-enforcement people who screwed this up so badly?
posted by pax digita at 3:13 AM on November 21, 2007


So what happens to the law-enforcement people who screwed this up so badly?

Promotion to a policy-level position or retirement into a higher paying position in "private security", they usually just flip a coin.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:30 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, that's a really horrible story. I just don't understand how a case such as that is pursued. Are the prosecutors just ignorant or are they evil?
posted by Onanist at 4:51 AM on November 21, 2007


Florida is backward. Remember the Terry Shiavo circus? That was in Florida. An awful lot of legislators and law enforcement Floridians are holy rollers and they think they are above the law and enforcing God's will, as if they know what that is. When I first saw this story I thought surely it must be about medical marijuana or something related to something a little more cutting edge (for Florida).
posted by 45moore45 at 5:43 AM on November 21, 2007


Are the prosecutors just ignorant or are they evil?

1) They're lawyers.
2) They work for the government.
3) Of Florida.

Why can't it be both?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:44 AM on November 21, 2007 [5 favorites]


I don't see why you're all "oh poor poor dreamsign" about it.

I dunno. Possibly because I interpreted 'not to piss on your cloud' to mean 'not to piss on your cloud'. Possibly because it's precisely the sort of thing I could see myself as having written without feeling like I was pissing on anyone's cloud.

He/she asked for a slapdown, and got it.

Ah yes. Internet machismo. Behind this keyboard and monitor stands an anonymous man of steel...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:20 AM on November 21, 2007


MeFites: First against the wall when the revolution comes.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:29 AM on November 21, 2007


The morphine pump may even have made it more politically expedient for the governor to pardon Paey.

I think that that's probably true but I wonder if he'd have got that without his having the MS diagnosis. One of the difficulties that people in these cases face is that pain is extremely difficult to measure or quantify in any way that's not totally subjective. So a drug-seeking dope fiend and somebody with intolerable chronic pain who is being undermedicated look pretty much the same -- even to the trained eye.

Throw in the MS diagnosis though, and you've got yourself a bona-fide cripple. Who could send a bona-fide cripple to prison, simply for using their prescribed meds? Shit, even Montel got the MS, and so what if that poor man likes to smoke a little reefer to ease the pain. Who's going to begrudge him that? Nobody's going to be sending Montel to no boot camp, like the kids on his own show.

You build your political enemies a cross for them to nail you to by supporting such a measure. Especially in Florida, where the aged and infirm hang out in great numbers and presumably exercise their vote.

leaving every other part of the case fucking messed up

There's no part of American drug policy that isn't fucked up that I can see. In fact, there isn't much about anything in America that doesn't look fucked up from where I sit.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:45 AM on November 21, 2007


Charlie Crist, the (as far as I can tell) standard issue republican governor of Florida really illustrates what a friggin' fascist asshole Jeb Bush was when running that state.
posted by delmoi at 7:37 AM on November 21, 2007


Didn't I see this on House? In that instance House pissed off a cop, and that was all it took for him to become an avenging angel destined to clean up an addict.
posted by Gungho at 8:26 AM on November 21, 2007


Charlie Crist, the (as far as I can tell) standard issue republican governor of Florida really illustrates what a friggin' fascist asshole Jeb Bush was when running that state.

Charlie's actually doing a fairly good job. Not much is going on right now (he's being fought a lot by the legislature...some of it good, some of it bad) but he's not fucking things up.

Jeb, on the other hand...man.
posted by taumeson at 8:54 AM on November 21, 2007


I recall someone making a point that Mr. Paey went to jail for the same amount that Rush Limbaugh walked for, both cases happening in Florida.

Anyone have any numbers to back that up?
posted by unixrat at 8:55 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm shocked at this story. Riveting interview. Thank you so much for posting it.
posted by agregoli at 8:56 AM on November 21, 2007


The logic was perfectly straight already, so your comment made no sense, and it did come off sympathetic to the overzealous drug warriors.

You know what, you can shove that attitude. I don't care to blur the facts because it's more "sympathetic" to my political leanings.

Is the charge and then treatment ironic? Of course it is.
Are mandatory minimums completely wrongheaded? Hell yes. Likewise, reverse-onus presumptions regarding possession of controlled substances, such that possession over a certain amount automatically attracts a charge of trafficking. Slightly firmer ground there, yet the minimums are always too small, and always seem to end up netting people who could obviously have been using that amount for personal use.

That morphine is legal in some contexts and not others is irrelevant; Paey was getting his medication in ways that are legal.

This is what doesn't make sense. That morphine is legal in some contexts and not in others is the entire basis for the charges laid, and it's also why the original comment, seeming to suggest that medication obtained directly from government services and that obtained anywhere else must necessarily be on equal legal footing or it's "fucked up".

Yeah, obviously this is backward nine ways from Sunday. But why don't we grant the obvious fucking starting step that the Florida D.A.'s office was prosecuting on the basis of illegally obtained painkillers. I'd like to see the charge that says "Possession of a controlled substance, to wit, morphine, legally prescribed and administered." Just quit wanking already.

When someone responds by saying, "That is so fucking messed up," my estimation is that this is in response to the irrational nature of such policy.

It would be irrational were the substance entirely banned in Florida, to then administer it to a person charged with possession (and trafficking) of that substance. But to charge someone for illegally obtaining a controlled substance, and then legally administering it to them? How is that irrational? And thank you for framing your argument in civil and adult terms.

Who could send a bona-fide cripple to prison, simply for using their prescribed meds? Shit, even Montel got the MS

I seem to recall that he was offered a three-year house arrest deal, but natch that comes with a guilty plea. Doesn't make the situation better, but it doesn't appear like they were trying to make an example of him. It's a blot on an already incredibly stained record for the Florida D.A..
posted by dreamsign at 12:20 PM on November 21, 2007


If that wasn't clear enough, it isn't that the results of this case, or the laws that spawned it, aren't fucked up. But the quoted bit? Not so much.

But hey, get yer rage on.
posted by dreamsign at 12:44 PM on November 21, 2007


Thanks for posting this, daksya.
posted by homunculus at 1:09 PM on November 21, 2007


Yeah, obviously this is backward nine ways from Sunday. But why don't we grant the obvious fucking starting step that the Florida D.A.'s office was prosecuting on the basis of illegally obtained painkillers. I'd like to see the charge that says "Possession of a controlled substance, to wit, morphine, legally prescribed and administered." Just quit wanking already.

Yes, that's right, thinking that sending a crippled man to prison because he didn't want to endure constraint pain is a bad idea is "wanking", it's just like masturbation.
posted by delmoi at 1:15 PM on November 21, 2007


Points for perception, delmoi.

Thinking that the government has no business prosecuting what it sees as a breach of controlled substance measures and -- omg! -- administering that controlled substance, and then saying that even pointing this out is somehow equivalent to being on "their side" in the WOD is just like masturbation.

Thanks for wanking along.
posted by dreamsign at 2:20 PM on November 21, 2007


You want to be outraged, focus on the reverse onus re: trafficking and the mandatory minimum. But unfocused outrage is so much more satisfying, I know.
posted by dreamsign at 2:22 PM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


dreamsign: But why don't we grant the obvious fucking starting step that the Florida D.A.'s office was prosecuting on the basis of illegally obtained painkillers

From the second link in the FPP:

Although the state originally alleged the doctor was duped into authorizing prescriptions and lying to pharmacists the state did its own back pedaling when the allegation was recanted by the doctor at trial. Ordinarily recanting an allegation before the jury ends the trial, but not here. The state told the jury they should convict regardless of what the doctor said in court. According to the prosecutor, the prescriptions were illegal simply because they had been written or issued 6 weeks after Richardâ·s last medical exam. It was still drug trafficking, the jury was told.


The charge was drug trafficking, not possession, due to the "excessive" amounts. The 25 year mandatory was due to the greater charge. While in jail, he was administered greater amounts, that's the fucked up part.
posted by daksya at 9:15 PM on November 21, 2007


This is what doesn't make sense. That morphine is legal in some contexts and not in others is the entire basis for the charges laid, and it's also why the original comment, seeming to suggest that medication obtained directly from government services and that obtained anywhere else must necessarily be on equal legal footing or it's "fucked up".

Indeed it is fucked up that they are not on much more nearly the same footing. We all know they are not, in any legal sense, but they should be. This is what it means to say the situation is "fucking messed up". It is clear from your other comments that you don't find it reasonable to have laws that would sentence a man to 25 years in prison for possessing any medicine without a prescription. So it seems you are trying to draw a distinction where there is none to be had.


Yeah, obviously this is backward nine ways from Sunday.

So you feel item's quote is "no, not really" "fucking messed up", but now say the very same ironic juxtaposition "obviously is backwards nine ways from Sunday"? I'm glad you changed your mind.


But why don't we grant the obvious fucking starting step that the Florida D.A.'s office was prosecuting on the basis of illegally obtained painkillers. I'd like to see the charge that says "Possession of a controlled substance, to wit, morphine, legally prescribed and administered." Just quit wanking already.

Well, your starting assumption is neither obvious nor true.
It would be much more accurate to say that Florida prosecutors trumped up false charges against and then successfully framed Richard Paey. They may have based their case on actual laws (unjust, fucked up ones), but they did so dishonestly and unscrupulously. It's not like Richard Paey was out robbing grandmothers to finance his "self-medication", and the heroic sheriff stepped in to put him in jail, where he could get his medicine the right way. I'm sorry, but you're the only wanker here.


I dunno. Possibly because I interpreted 'not to piss on your cloud' to mean 'not to piss on your cloud'. Possibly because it's precisely the sort of thing I could see myself as having written without feeling like I was pissing on anyone's cloud.

Saying "not to piss on your cloud" is nothing but an intensifier, more subtle and effective than "ha, ha, I'm pissing on your cloud". This cavalier spin is probably what made me so angry about dreamsign's original comment. To be self-effacing, one would have to say something like "which is not to take away from the obvious tragedy and injustice of this case".
posted by metaplectic at 2:31 AM on November 22, 2007


I'm sorry, could y'all take your apparent disagreement to email or MeTa? Metaplectic, you're way outside the guidelines, and flagged.

Pain is a bitch. I injured my back jumping out of airplanes when I was 17. I've reinjured it a couple times since. At one point, after messing up while moving, I was begging the docs for something to take that knot out, and got zip.

This part of the WOD has got doctors afraid to treat people's pain. Anyone that doesn't automatically recognize that's messed up needs a therapist.
posted by Goofyy at 3:57 AM on November 22, 2007


The charge was drug trafficking, not possession, due to the "excessive" amounts.

I believe the original charges were possession, trafficking, and fraud. The fact that he was only convicted on the trafficking charge does not mean that the possession charge was "trumped up". It may have been, but I don't know that, and neither do you. It looks to me that the starting position of the Florida D.A. was that possession was an issue, so again all this talk of "arresting him for a legally obtained drug" is a tad disingenuous, since that's not apparently what they thought at the time and you're colouring your judgment of those actions with hindsight.

o you feel item's quote is "no, not really" "fucking messed up", but now say the very same ironic juxtaposition "obviously is backwards nine ways from Sunday"? I'm glad you changed your mind.

That's what the paragraph break is for. The WOD is fucked up. Item's ridiculous ranting about - gasp - the government administering a controlled substance... do you know the first thing about drug policy, or are you content to argue entirely out of your ass? I've seen charges for possession listing, among other drugs, Viagra, which your inbox full of spam will remind you you can obtain easily. That's what a controlled substance is. The fact that you miss this obvious point gives me no faith that you have even the tools with which to analyze anything that hits the courts. You may want to stick to the entertainment pages.

Saying "not to piss on your cloud" is nothing but an intensifier, more subtle and effective than "ha, ha, I'm pissing on your cloud".

Your mind-reading skills are no better than your legal analyses. Were it a boast, I would say not to steal your thunder. Were it singing praises, I might say not to rain on your parade. Since it was an angry rant, but a misdirected one (with so much actual injustice here to rant at, yet), I said not to piss on your (dark, stormy) cloud.

And I don't think I'll take etiquette lessons from you, Mr. Wish-You-Had-A-Fatal-Disease.
posted by dreamsign at 4:33 PM on November 25, 2007


dreamsign: It looks to me that the starting position of the Florida D.A. was that possession was an issue

Florida authorities were monitoring "excessive" prescription activity and Paey got caught in the dragnet. They monitored Paey for three months after he came to their attention and found no other suspicious activity, so they went to the doctor; claimed that Paey was selling, and thus got the basis for charges. Your judgement that the DA sincerely believed that Paey got the drugs illegally is more implausible than the alternative that the DA may sincerely believe that the WoD needs to be aggressively enforced and that druggies deserve all they get. And they had a catch. But the notion that the Florida DA really thought that Paey was forging prescriptions is not supported. Remember, most of the pharmacists dispensing to Paey got authorization from his NJ doctor (a couple of 'em didn't call).

At most, the doctor was guilty of issuing prescriptions for controlled substances a certain duration after the last medical exam, and of giving blank-dated but written presciptions so that Paey would not have to make trips to NJ.

I've seen charges for possession listing, among other drugs, Viagra, which your inbox full of spam will remind you you can obtain easily. That's what a controlled substance is.

It's ironic that you are claiming ignorance on the part of others. Viagra i.e. sildenafil, is not a controlled substance. Only those drugs listed under one of the five schedules setup under the Controlled Substances Act are controlled. Viagra is prescription only and thus its possession without a prescription is illegal.

And to clarify one last time:

1)Florida narcs looking for "excess" use find out about Paey. To them, that meant that he was reselling and/or an addict* himself.
2)After getting convicted on trafficking counts due to the excess amounts, he gets 25 years in jail.
3)Prison doctors now put him on a regimen of stronger potency.

That's the fucked up part, not that the medication in jail is controlled.


*that's how the prosecutor characterized Paey during trial
posted by daksya at 10:31 PM on November 27, 2007


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