Florida's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Richard Paey, a wheelchair-using father of three who is currently serving a 25-year mandatory prison sentence for taking his own pain medication. In doing so, the court let stand a decision which essentially claims that the courts have no role in checking the powers of the executive and legislative branches of government when an individual outcome is patently unjust.
Richard Paey -- who suffers both multiple sclerosis and from the aftermath of a disastrous and barbaric back surgery that resulted in multiple major malpractice judgments -- now receives virtually twice as much morphine in prison than the equivalent in opioid medications for which he was convicted of forging prescriptions.
He had previously been given legitimate prescriptions for the same doses of pain medicine -- but made the mistake of moving to Florida from New Jersey, where he could not find a physician to treat his pain adequately. Each of his medical conditions alone can produce agony. Paey has described his pain as constantly feeling like his legs had been "dipped into a furnace."
The Ivy-league educated attorney has no prior criminal convictions, and weeks of surveillance by narcotics agents did not find him selling the medications.
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 50 oxycodone pills, which he intended to sell to children waiting outside, and then stabbed the pharmacist."