A Tacoma doctor who served prison time and lost his right to practice medicine after falsely testing positive for cocaine has had his conviction overturned, but he still cannot treat patients.
An Army court of appeals set aside the conviction which was based on a 2011 urine test that was mishandled as well as evidence the Army major's first attorney failed to introduce at his trial. The doctor has always maintained his innocence, even so, the punishment given him was far harsher than other soldiers.
In 2012, the Army was administering random drug tests to more than 900,000 soldiers a year and more than 13,300 tested positive. Yet the doctor was one of only six soldiers sentenced to prison that year for drugs. The fate of most are decided during an Article 15 nonjudicial disciplinary hearing and involve discharge from the military. The doctor served seven months in prison with murderers, rapists and child molesters before he received clemency.
Ironically, the suspect test that set the entire case in motion, is based on the doctor voluntarily providing a urine sample he was not required to give at that time. Even though he had been selected for a random drug test, he could have been excused from providing a sample because he was working at an off-site location. Instead, he voluntarily drove 50 miles to the medical center to provide the sample.
The Army medical center drug-testing lab that handled the doctor's urine sample, tested more than 100,000 samples a year at that time and claims to never have made a mistake that resulted in a false positive test. Yet “a substantial amount” of someone else's DNA turned up in the doctor's sample. A fact that the lab deemed unimportant.
After the urinalysis came back positive for cocaine, the doctor had an independent lab test one of his hair follicles for the drug. That test came back negative for cocaine. Yet, because his original attorney failed to file the proper paperwork to enter the test result into evidence, the jury in the doctor's trial was not allowed to consider it. Subsequently, he was found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison.
Even though an Army court of appeals set aside the doctor's conviction last year, his commander at the hospital where he practiced medicine before the false-positive drug test still wants him dishonorably discharged from the military. Nevertheless, the Army major, who service included front-line duty in Iraq, will retire next year after 20 years of honorable service. However, if his commander at the Army medical center refuses to restore his right to practice, it will be a black mark on his record that will make it difficult, if not impossible, to practice medicine as a civilian doctor.
Even innocent people can be convicted of crimes. If you have been falsely charged with a crime, you need the help of a qualified attorney. Call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.
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