Friday, September 27, 2013

An interesting coda to an interesting case

About a month ago, the Sixth Circuit issued its opinion in United States v. Booker, 11-6311 (found here). Bottom line: you cannot intubate and medically paralyze someone in order to dig drugs out of his rectum. In August, 2010, Oak Ridge, TN, police officers took Mr. Booker to a medical center to see Dr. Michael LaPaglia. They suspected Mr. Booker had hidden drugs in his rectum, but could not get at them. Dr. LaPaglia had twice before done them the favor of medically paralyzing suspects and retrieving the illicit contents of their colon. Dr. LaPaglia intubated Mr. Booker, rendered him unconscious, and then medically paralyzed him. The doctor then retrieved a five-plus gram rock of cocaine from Mr. Booker's rectum.

Mr. Booker litigated a motion to suppress, and lost. He appealed. The Sixth Circuit noted that putting someone through an unconsented-to procedure while he was in police custody violated their rights and "shocks the conscience at least as much as the stomach pumping the Supreme Court long ago held violated due process." The Sixth held the evidence must be excluded and Mr. Booker's conviction reversed.

And now, the interesting coda:
The decision was published August 26, 2013. On September 3, 2013, Knoxville*, TN, police were called to Dr. LaPaglia's home for a domestic disturbance. According to local news sources, police seized 125 marijuana pipes and bongs, more than two pounds of high-grade marijuana, and "pills and vials containing liquids commonly used in hospitals" including Valium, amphetamine, oxycodone, propofol, and morphine. Police also recovered a handgun and two rifles. You can read more here.

*Knoxville and Oak Ridge are close neighbors of each other