• Controlled Substances Act,  Drugs,  Trials, Judges and Jurors

    Mute Oracle: The Controlled Substances Act and Physicians’ Criminal Conduct

    Criminal laws are supposed to give persons regulated by the law sufficient notice of what conduct, exactly, is prohibited.  Criminal laws, as interpreted by courts, are also supposed to provide clear standards for mens rea (that is, the level of intent the Government must prove at trial).  With regard to physicians and their prescribing practices, the federal Controlled Substances Act does neither. Or, as my Lightfoot colleagues Brandon Essig, Jeff Doss and I put it in a recent article for Law 360: With the Eleventh Circuit’s recent decision in United States v. Enmon, physicians continue to face two critical questions in the uncertain case law under the federal Controlled Substances Act. First, what conduct…

  • Controlled Substances Act,  Drugs,  Poetry,  Trials, Judges and Jurors

    Pill Mills, Poppy Flowers, Dead Poets and the Human Resources Department

    Having been through a seven-week federal criminal “pill mill” trial, I think a lot about enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act and its effect on physicians.  Aggressive enforcement effects others in healthcare as well, including management: “It’s very hard for medical professionals and those in upper management, such as hospital CFOs, CEOs, and CMOs, to see themselves as criminals,” says Jack Sharman, partner at Lightfoot, Franklin, and White, a law firm headquartered in Birmingham, AL. “This difficulty to perceive what someone else might think merits a criminal investigation impedes judgment and slows internal response.” While physicians might not see themselves as criminals for managing patients’ pain or making sure they…