Greedy Prosecutors

A typical middle-aged guy with no criminal record, who started taking prescription meds for back pain, became addicted, and got caught, would be treated leniently if he agreed to seek treatment for his addiction. But if you’re famous, perhaps a famous Republican in a pivotal Democratic jurisdiction, they try to nail you.

Limbaugh can afford good legal representation and will probably come out OK. But what does this episode say about the local prosecutors? Maybe there’s so little crime in Palm Beach that they have nothing better to do than pursue this marginal case.

Or maybe the prosecutors’ proposed plea deal was so harsh because it was designed to be rejected (as Limbaugh’s attorney did). The obvious implication is that the prosecutors are either 1) Democratic hacks out for revenge for the 2000 election (or simply against a prominent Republican), 2) trying to prolong resolution of this otherwise minor case in order to advance their own careers, 3) trying to force Limbaugh to go to trial, which would be extremely costly in foregone income to him, even if he were not convicted, or 4) all of the above.

UPDATE: The Florida Attorney General isn’t playing along with the prosecutors, and the prosecutors are backpedaling:

Limbaugh’s attorney, Roy Black, questioned [Palm Beach County State Attorney] Krischer’s motives and said the release was part of a smear campaign. Prosecutors said they believed they were doing the right thing after consulting the law, the attorney general and the Florida Bar. But there was nothing in writing to support or refute their claim that they were following legal advice from the attorney general.

That changed Wednesday with the release of a letter to Palm Beach County prosecutors from Patricia Gleason, general counsel for the attorney general. The letter lent credence to Limbaugh’s claim that the release of the records was improper.

”In this case,” Gleason wrote, “… it seems to me that the purpose in contacting me about this issue may not have been to obtain impartial advice on an open government issue, but rather to use a part of our conversation to justify your office’s decision that the documents should be released. This is disappointing to me personally and professionally.”

Prosecutors dispatched a written reply to Gleason Wednesday stating that they were confident in their decision and consulted her only ”to see if there was anything we may have missed” while researching the issue.

That last quoted paragraph is a doozy. So the prosecutors already knew the answer with confidence but asked the AG anyway? Yeah, right. I’m sure that if the attorney general, a conservative Republican, had agreed with them they would have used his opinion as cover for their treatment of Limbaugh. That would have helped them, and hurt him with Florida Republicans. But he was smart enough not to let the prosecutors use him, so now they are claiming he’s irrelevant. What a bunch of jackasses. It’s too bad they can’t be impeached. (Or can they — does anybody know?)

19 thoughts on “Greedy Prosecutors”

  1. Perhaps he will, but I am more concerned about the prosecutors. They face few if any penalties for incompetence or misconduct. Some of them are incorrigible.

  2. Sadly there are many with very painful complaints who are long term users of prescription painkilleres and could be termed addicts.They are not a danger to society if they follow instructions,those on drowsyness and operasting machinary for example, but they cannot function without drugs to alleviate pain.
    Since prescription drugs are licensed by the government,legally prescribed by doctors what is the case.I do hope the prosecutor’s hip goes during the case, a sudden rush of humility would be wonderous to behold.

  3. Downey served time. Rush broke or is alleged to have broken a few laws and is in a bad situation for that and not because he got addicted to a pain killer. Heck, if his problem is merely (?) addiction, then he will be found not guilty. How many folks serve time for being caught with drugs they are not supposed to have? Why get so crazed because your guy fucked up? I feel sorry for him (I dislikehim) because I have a son with an addiction problem.

  4. Freddie, I wish you and your son all the best.

    I don’t feel “crazed” about this. I sometimes listen to Limbaugh, and agree with him on many issues, but on others I do not. I have sympathy for him, but he’s not a personal buddy of mine and I’m sure that he can take care of himself.

    What I am objecting to is that the local prosecutors who are trying to make a case against Limbaugh, appear to be abusing their power by driving an especially hard plea bargain because he is well known. Maybe they are doing it for political reasons, maybe they are acting out of personal ambition, maybe they are sincerely zealous, but their behavior is inappropriate in any case. (And even if you don’t think they are overzealous, it’s difficult to excuse their unethical, if not illegal, leaking to the press of information damaging to Limbaugh.)

    I don’t think prosecution is a good response in these situations. Not for Limbaugh and not for anyone else.

  5. I’ll go with number 2: This is some prosecutor hoping for a televised trial that he can ride to fame, fortune, and higher public office.

    As for Rush, I can’t stand his show and couldn’t read his books. It’s not that I disagree with his politic, whatever they are, I just find him frustrating and boring. I have the feeling, however, that until all this happened, Rush would have had little sympathy for someone else in the same predicament. I enjoy the irony.

    Right-leaning pundits are fond of saying that a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged. To this I can only respond that a liberal is a conservative who’s been indicted.

    That said, there’s something deeply wrong with any member of the justice system who thinks it’s worthwhile to prosecute people with painful medical conditions for becoming a little too dependent on pain killers. Like Peter above, I wouldn’t mind a little irony in the prosecutor’s future.

  6. Perhaps the prosecutors are seeming to harsh but are only follwing Mr. Limbaugh’s well known positions as to how drug abusers should be treated.

  7. yank, I don’t think Limbaugh advocates throwing the book at people who become addicted to pain killers.

    Mark Draughn wrote:

    Right-leaning pundits are fond of saying that a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged. To this I can only respond that a liberal is a conservative who’s been indicted.

    I think he has a point.

  8. I think you will find that he said “if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they out to be sent up.”

    There he made no distinction between acceptable white, middle class drugs he was doing and unacceptable ethnic, inner city drugs you seem to think he was referring to.

    He also said “what this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we’re not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river too.”

    I’m with Rush on this.

  9. yank, I disagree with Limbaugh about prosecuting drug users. I’m also not sure that you are correct in stating that Limbaugh meant to include oxycontin addicts in his definition of drug users. (And I don’t think Limbaugh was trafficking in drugs, merely buying them for his own use.)

    But even if you are correct and Limbaugh is a hypocrite on this issue, I am not responsible for his arguments, nor does my argument become less valid. Even hypocrites should have an expectation of fair treatment at the hands of the law. The best response to the Limbaugh matter is not to celebrate the fact that he is getting screwed like an inner-city crack user, it is to change the system so that nobody gets screwed.

    And note that he is receiving worse treatment than do other people who get caught abusing pain medication. Most first-time offenders in his situation would likely get off with supervised treatment and no felony record. Are prosectutorial vendettas acceptable in a good cause? I don’t think so.

  10. First off: Contrary to some people here who assume that they know what the position of all conservatives is regarding drug use, Rush has not had a lot to say about the issue in general; I don’t think it has ever ranked very high on his priority list. Yes, he wants to send up hard-core users (the people who commit robberies to support their habits) and dealers, because these are the sort of people who are just bad. I don’t think that’s a very controversial view even among liberals. And I’ve heard Rush say plenty about the War on Some Drugs, as the libertarians call it (with more than a little justification) and its abuses. Heck, even Bill Buckley supports legalization.

    Second, the law under which Rush is being threatened has the unique combination of vices in that it is both vague and almost never enforced. It practically begs to be used as a political tool. Note that, despite all the prosecutorial bravado, no actual charges have been filed against Rush. Have these guys been learning from the FBI goons that keel-hauled the wrong guy for the Atlanta Centennial Park bombing?

    Third, and speaking of FBI goons: Guess who got her start as a nationally-known prosecutor in the Palm Beach area. None other than that famous purveyor of reason and justice, Janet Reno. And what kind of cases was she prosecuting? Do the words “McMartin Preschool” ring a bell?

    In summary, yes, the prosecution of Rush probably is politically motivated. But there’s a gonzo element that seems to run throughout law enforcement in south Florida, and if it wasn’t Rush, it would probably be someone else whose prosecution is convenient and low-risk (and not necessarily tied to partisan politics).

  11. Jonathon,

    I think you may have missed the irony in my statement that “I’m with Rush on this”. Personally I support decriminalisation of nearly all drugs and legalisation (with regulation) of most.

    Clearly Rush is a hypocrite (and not only in this regard). In the remarks I have seen from Limbaugh on this he very clearly made no distinction between users and suppliers. I don’t know how he could have meant to specifically exclude oxycontin (other than for the obvious reason that he was stoned on it) as it is, under federal law, a schedule II drug in the same classification as morphine, cocaine and methamphetamine.

    I don’t believe anyone in this situation, including KLimbaugh, should betreated this way I can see how the prosecutor’s zeal could be motiviated by Rush’s published attitudes.

    Cousin Dave,

    I find your subtle differentiation between “hard core” addicts (i.e. those who cannot afford their addiction and therefore must steal to support it) and other users appalling. I suppose Rush falls into the later category and therefore his addiction is acceptable.

  12. yank,

    Thanks. I did catch your irony. Limbaugh’s position on our drug laws may indeed by inconsistent or hypocritical, but it was not my main interest in writing this post.

  13. OK, yankinlondon, and just who the hell are you that you are so morally superior that you think you have earned the moral standing to lecture to me? Let’s examine a few of your statements:

    “I don’t believe anyone in this situation, including KLimbaugh, should betreated this way I can see how the prosecutor’s zeal could be motiviated by Rush’s published attitudes.”

    So it’s really OK then. It’s perfectly all right for people who disagree with you to be prosecuted based on their political views. If Limbaugh had consistently advocated a libertarian position on drugs, presumably you would be opposed to his prosecution because his views agree with yours.

    Second, spare me all the crap about those “who need to steal to support their habit”. I am aware of no scientific study showing that crack, heroin, or home-cooked meth are necessary to support human life. Every person with a addiction to illegal drugs is in that position becuase they made a bad moral choice at some time in the past (perhaps coupled with a neurological suspectibility). I am in the position of seeing a close relative about to face a lengthy prison term for his involvement in drugs. It hurts that it’s happening, but the family has made numerous attempts over the past few years to help this person out, get him some counseling, fix his legal jams, and so forth. The last time we jumped through these hoops, it took him three days to get himself trapped in a major bust, which occurred in part because he couldn’t resist bragging about how much smarter he was than all us stupid law-abiding sheep. This wasn’t society’s fault; it all happened because of choices he made, but he has made it clear in letters to the family that so far as he is concerned, he is justified in every single thing he does no matter what, and everything bad that has ever happened to him is the fault of the family for not being generous enough with him. He thought he was an untouchable, he pushed the envelope a bit too far, and now he’s looking at a minimum of 15 years of hard time.

    And it’s exactly what he deserves. So spare me the whiny uber-liberal pathos about how evil our society has been to him. Ultimately, people who persist in bad behavior do so because that is what they choose. Rush has been given an opportunity to correct his, and it looks like he’s doing it. Our relative had those same opportunities and more, and he chose to throw them all away. There are better things we can all be spending our time on.

  14. Cousin Dave,

    I think you miss my point. Personally I don’t approve of the current drug laws. What I was suggesting is that the motivation of the prosecutors in this case may be more personal than “political”. They have been presented with an opportunity to investigate a pompous, moralising git who, using his access to the public airwaves, has offered plenty of criticism of how they, and their various colleagues, do their jobs. I think they’re just running with it.

    As to the issue of “need” that cuts both ways. Rush had no “need” to involve his housekeeper (willingly or unwillingly) in the purchase of his drugs, he had no “need” to lie to his doctors in order to acquire additional presciptions and he had no “need” to deliberatly circumvent the restrictions on large cash transactions.

    nb – oxycontin is, as I noted above, a schedule II drug and, when acquired illegally, is in the same category as coke, crack, meth and morphine. Ergo Limbaugh was using an illegal drug. There is no distinction to be made here between “legal” and “illegal” drugs.

  15. There is no such thing as an addiction problem. Chronic users who continually “relapse” after detox go back to drugs because drugs relieve pain (doh!).

    There is a habituation problem but detox fixes that if there is no chronic pain.

    The problem is that some types of chronic pain are not recognized as such. Yet.

    When the dots are connected we will feel like such fools for persecuting people in pain.


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