INTRO: A local Pasco County story that WMNF has covered from its inception has now garnered national and international attention. Richard Paey was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison for fifteen counts of drug trafficking, obtaining a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. Paey has maintained all along that he was innocent and that medicating himself was not a crime. Paey, a father of three, debilitated by multiple sclerosis and a botched back surgery after a 1987 auto accident, is a victim of this nations drug laws, and mandatory minimum sentencing. Paey turned down a plea deal which would have placed him under house arrest. Paey’s appeal arguments started today at Stetson University College of Law this morning and WMNF’s Mark Antokas was there. Roll Tape� The police should not be involved in decisions between the doctor and the patient……�

SCRIPT: That was Richard Paey in a prison interview two years ago. Today, a panel of three appeals court judges heard oral arguments as to whether Paey should be released from prison. Linda Paey is Richard’s wife. She looks for some courage on the part of the judges. Roll Tape.

John P. Flannery of Leesburg Virginia is Paeys appeals attorney. Flannery asked the panel to set aside the sentence, saying that the mandatory minimum sentencing by the Florida Legislature is flawed, Judges should have more discression and a twenty-five year sentence given to a pain patient is cruel and unusual punishment. Roll Tape.

Flannery painted a picture of the pain patient’s life. He said that after a tolerance is built up, it is not a matter of getting high anymore. Roll Tape:

Part of the appeal was the fact that during Paey’s trial, testimony was given by his physician Doctor Stephen Nurkeiwz; testimony that at times was considered perjury, which resulted in a mistrial . Nurkeiwitz first testified that he was sending signed undated prescriptions for percoset to Paey from his New Jersey practice, only to recant later, when he found out that he was under suspicion for writing illegal prescriptions, and malpractice. Flannery laid prosecutorial misconduct charges on the State. Roll Tape.

Dr. Frank Fisher attended the hearings. Fisher, a Harvard educated physician who had a small pain clinic for the poor, and who lost seven years of his life battling the State of California against charges alleging drug trafficking in oxycontin, commented on Richard Paey’s situation. Roll Tape.

Fisher has since been exhonorated. Siobhan Reynolds is founder of the Pain Relief Network, based in New York City. The pain relief network exists to support those who have been jailed wrongly for using drugs to medicate their pain. Here, she speaks of mandatory minimum sentencing, which has blossomed since the early days of the Reagan Era. Roll Tape.

The emotional burden upon Richard Paey’s family has been immense. WMNF spoke to a tearful Catherine Paey at her mother’s side. Roll Tape:

SOCK-OUT: Oral Arguments are done. The panel of Judges will come to a decision on Richard Paey’s fate at their leisure. The defense has no illusions about the difficulty of having Paey freed. Should an appeal fail, Paey will have no other option than to petition the Governor for a pardon. Reporting from Stetson Law, this is Mark Antokas for WMNF radio news.

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