Jacob Sullum

In interviews with New York Times science columnist John Tierney, three jurors conceded that Hurwitz, who received no money from black-market drug sales, appeared to be a sincere physician who was hoodwinked by unscrupulous patients. "These patients used the doctor shamelessly," said one juror. "I don't see him getting anything financial out of it. Many of the patients weren't even paying him. He had to believe that he was just treating them for pain."

This was the very issue that last year led the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to overturn the 25-year prison sentence that resulted from Hurwitz's first drug trafficking trial. The prosecution said it did not matter whether Hurwitz was acting in good faith, and the appeals court disagreed.

"There were just some times he fell down on the job," a juror told Tierney. Which job? Some critics have accused Hurwitz of bad medical judgment, to which the proper legal response is civil liability or regulatory sanctions, not prison. The criminal case against him focused on his failure as a cop, not as a doctor. If any of the jurors who convicted him ever have the misfortune of suffering pain severe enough to require strong medication, you can be sure they won't be looking for a good cop.


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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