Monday, November 8, 2010

The Schneider Pain Clinic and the Pain Relief Network (Part II)

On June 10, 2008, when a lawyer representing Linda Schneider failed to return his phone call promptly, District Judge Monti Belot wrote a terse letter threatening to have lawyers who did not return his phone calls on the same day brought to court in handcuffs by U.S. Marshalls. In November 2008 he refused the still-jailed Linda Schneider's request for a bond.  In December 2008 he dismissed a request by Schneider's counsel challenging the prosecution's expert witnesses.

But on January 28, 2009 Belot ruled in favor of the defense, stating that prosecutors could present evidence to the jury on only four of the 59 deaths they claimed were connected to the Schneider Clinic. The prosecution immediately filed an appeal with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: on February 8, 2010 that court reversed Belot's decision, ruling that "A trial court's case management may not interfere with the government's ability to prosecute criminal activity any more than it can intrude upon a defendant's opportunity to defend."

Throughout these proceedings, Siobhan Reynolds and the Pain Relief Network continued to assist the Schneiders in their defense.  Reynolds, PRN's founder, is the widow of chronic pain patient Sean Greenwood.  Greenwood suffered from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a rare and painful disorder of the connective tissues. After years of misery, he finally found relief when he came under the care of Dr. William Hurwitz, a pain management doctor and outspoken critic of the DEA's war on physicians. After Hurwitz received a controversial 25-year sentence for "drug trafficking"  (a sentence later reduced to 5 years on appeal), Greenwood was unable once again to receive adequate medication: later he died of a brain hemorrhage which Reynolds blamed on his long agony.

Reynolds saw the Schneider Pain Clinic case as a parallel to the attacks on Dr. Hurwitz and brought all the PRN's resources to bear in the case.  The PRN assisted in the Schneider defense, rented a billboard proclaiming "Dr. Schneider Never Killed Anyone," and regularly contributed to the media coverage of the trial.  Irritated by continual PRN criticism, the prosecutor's office sought a gag order forbidding the Schneiders, their family members and the Pain Relief Network from publicly commenting on the case. But once again Belot ruled for the defendants and denied the prosecution's request. 

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