Even a Bush appointee can only take so much!
In a contentious hearing Monday, Belot scolded Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway for making what he termed "a government threat" to appeal his decision limiting the case to four deaths.
"Nobody threatens me in this courtroom," Belot said.
Dr. Schneider and his wife, Linda, are unusual defendants for this type of case. Generally, doctors attacked by drug warriors follow the conventional wisdom of rolling over and hoping for the best. They are advised to show contrition while obediently awaiting the prosecutor's offer. If they are lucky, that offer will simply mean the destruction of their professional lives and a future filled with poverty, shame and despair. If they are not so lucky it means decades in prison. But nothing is as dangerous as actually fighting back.
Treadway's defendants wouldn't behave. They had the audacity to go to trial. Then they got a lot of help from an activist organization which monitors prosecutions of doctors who treat pain. They got some good lawyers, and they plead not guilty. Those silly activists and attorneys helped the doctor and his wife regain their self-respect, and helped them realize they had done nothing wrong. Apparently, Treadway was so angered by all these shenanigans that she asked the court to remove the defendants' attorneys. In that request she claimed the activist organization was "practicing law" from behind the scenes and wrongfully convincing these defendants to assert their constitutional rights. From her perspective, the defendants needed a proper lawyer who would obediently await her plea offer and stop all this subversive nonsense about her charges being false.
In their standard procedures for whacking a physician, the prosecutors began the case by sending out frequent e-mail reports to aid the local media in writing about the "pill mill" and the doctor who was a "butcher". This procedure assures properly one-sided press coverage and a good, predictable pre-conditioned jury pool. Compliant conservative journalists printed the stories as if it were an open and shut case, either failing to quote the defendant's side of the story at all, or tagging some abbreviated response onto the end of their article which read something like "as they all say". Then those silly activists started talking to reporters themselves. That's when Tanya Treadway went ballistic. She asked the judge for a gag order, because obviously the only people who have any business talking to the press in such cases are the prosecutors. When defendants start talking to reporters, it messes up the procedure by causing things like doubt about the validity of the prosecutor's claims. Again, the judge wouldn't go along.
Now, Treadway seems to have really...what can I say...pissed off Judge Monti Belot. Judge Belot seemed to think that there was no reason to charge Dr. Schneider with the death of every medical patient who has ever died anywhere, and to spend the next few years hearing the case. The judge seemed to think if the prosecution could prove that Dr. Schneider was responsible for the deaths of three patients, then that would be enough for justice to ensue. Treadway didn't agree, evidently so strongly that the judge wants to speak to her boss.
The government is proceeding with the appeal.. Hopefully, this will not end tragically for the Schneiders. Either way, we owe a tremendous amount of respect to defendants like Dr. Schneider and Linda, because they keep the flame from going out. They remind us that something is very wrong. They remind us that things have become too easy for people like Tanya Treadway, and that it has been that way for so long that she actually expects it.
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