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Articles Posted in New York City Drug Crimes Lawyer

While it is known knowledge to anyone who has ever consulted a lawyer that these private communications seeking legal help are completely confidential, people behind bars are not exactly awarded that same privilege.

Despite the fact that the attorney-client privilege is the oldest, broadest and perhaps the most important of all privileges in the American legal system, inmates awaiting trial or appealing a conviction have this privilege ignored as soon as they login to access their email.

The Bureau of Prisons has made limited email access available to federal inmates, however there is a price for that access and inmates are warned every single time they log in that the government is allowed to monitor and read all messages sent and received. And federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are taking advantage of this fact by freely accessing emails between inmates and their attorneys.

6160077394_fea830a2a2_mIn fact, in one case, prosecutors read more than 12,000 pages of emails sent by an imprisoned former Pennsylvania senator, and then included them in their argument for a harsher resentencing.

Government lawyers argue that because inmates must knowingly consent to the inspection of all email messages, they waive the attorney-client privilege. This argument has also been accepted by several federal judges who have ruled on this issue. The government claims it would cost too much to separate attorney-client emails from other kinds of email messages, and that inmates also have many other means of communication such as letters, phone calls and in-person visits.

However, email is the most common form of modern communication, especially by lawyers. The value of email is even greater to those behind bars as it can take weeks for confidential letters to be processed by prison officials, and setting up an unmonitored phone call can take months, if the request is even answered at all. Personal meetings in prison can be difficult to arrange, time-consuming and costly.

One Brooklyn federal judge has weighed her opinion on the government’s rationales. In a case against a surgeon accused of Medicare fraud, the prosecutor told the judge that he had no interest in reading a defendant’s emails to his lawyer for “strategic advantage.” The judge replied by saying, “That’s hogwash. You’re going to tell me you don’t want to know what your adversary’s strategy is? What kind of a litigator are you then? Give me a break.” The judge then ruled that the government could not take a peek at any emails between the surgeon and his lawyers.

There are undoubtedly serious criminal rights issues with the government reading inmates emails, the most disturbing being the fact that prosecutors have the ability to determine the defense’s strategy before trial. It seems like this will be an issue for the Supreme Court to handle in the very near future.

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Authorities allege that a clinic in the Bronx was controlled by drug traffickers, and the patients, doctors, prescriptions and even urine samples were part of an intricate scheme to redirect oxycodone to be sold on the street.

In a federal indictment, prosecutors claim that corrupt doctors were paid $300 in cash for fraudulent medical visits that lasted just minutes, involved no actual physical examination and led to a consistent number of prescriptions for large quantities of oxycodone.

According to a government court filing, for more than three years the doctors at this Bronx-based clinic wrote about 31,500 medically unnecessary prescriptions for oxycodone, involving about 5.5 million oxycodone tablets with a street value of up to $550 million.

Federal prosecutors allege that members of the oxycodone ring used threats, intimidation and violence to protect their access to the clinic and its doctors, going as far as staging armed bodyguards near the clinic.

The indictment shows that Oxycodone is a highly addictive, narcotic-strength painkiller, and these prescriptions have colossal cash value to drug dealers. In New York City, a 30-milligram tablet has a street value of $30 to $40. The value for one tablet can go as high as $100 per tablet elsewhere in country. The indictment adds that a single prescription for 180 Oxycodone tablets can profit a distributor as much as $18,000 in cash.

The investigation into the Bronx clinic involved the use of at least a dozen cooperating sources, confidential informers and undercover agents in what has been called “the largest pill mill in the Northeast.”

OxycodoneThe federal indictment charges one doctor, the owner of the clinic and others in the city, as well as 23 other people in connection with the scheme. The doctor is accused of collecting nearly $12 million in fees over three years in the scheme, according to prosecutors.

The doctor, who pleaded not guilty, was permitted home detention if he meets certain conditions of a $5 million bond.

Another clinic doctor faces state charges of conspiracy and illegal prescription sales. He was ordered held without bond, and entered a not guilty plea to the charges.

The indictment alleges that this doctor sporadically saw supposed patients and wrote excessive oxycodone prescriptions. He is accused of hiring other doctors and telling them to write Oxycodone prescriptions as well, paying the doctors based on the number of prescriptions they wrote.

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According to new federal data, black Americans were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested on charges related to marijuana possession in 2010, despite the fact that both used the drug at similar rates.

This disproportion has increased steadily from a decade before, and is even higher in some states, including Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, where blacks were nearly eight times as likely to be arrested.

During this same time frame, the public opinion regarding marijuana use relaxed and a handful of states legalized its use. However, almost half of all drug arrests in 2011 were on marijuana-related charges, nearly the same amount as in 2010.

1206038_dutch_weed-2_jpg.jpgThe new data draws from police records from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and is the most comprehensive review of marijuana arrests by race and by county. It is part of a report that will be released this week by the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Criminal Law Reform Project and the lead author of the report, “We found that in virtually every county in the country, police have wasted taxpayer money enforcing marijuana laws in a racially biased manner.”

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