Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mike Nifong Does Texas

"A Texas nurse who was brought up on criminal charges for filing an anonymous complaint accusing a doctor of unethical conduct was acquitted by a jury Thurday in a case that watchdog groups warned could have a chilling effect on health care workers and patients. ... After the jury returned its verdict, [Anne] Mitchell siad her complaint 'had nothing to do with perosnal feelings,' and she would continue to report doctors if she believes they are not gicing patients proper care. ... Dozens of nurses filled the courtroom throughout this week's trial, and many wept when the verdict was announced. ... 'Whether Ms. Mitchell was convicted or exonerated, was largely irrelvant to the long-term impact her prosecution will have on Texas patients,' [Allen Winslow of Texas Watch] said in a statement. 'The very fact that she was prosecuted will make individuals who could have information that could save lives wuill think twice before speaking up, putting Texas patients at risk.' ... Mitchell's complaint filed in April acused [Rolando] Arafiles of improperly encouraging patients to buy herbal medicines and wanting to use hospital supplies to perform a procedure at a patient's home", Betsy Blaney at the Houston Chronicle, 12 February 2010, link:

"Now it's time for the sherriff who investigated her and the district attorney [DA] wwho prosecuted her to be brought to justice. We can only fantasize. ... The Medical Board [MB] already knew Arafiles. In 2007 it had placed him under certain restrictions for three years. Two days after receiving the anonymous letter, the board notified him of the complaint and some of its details. ... In addition, according to testimony at trial, he joined in pushing doc's $40 bottles of herbal supplement, even holding meeting at Pizza Hut to recruit other salesmen. ... [MB] offficials assumed he was investigating the doctor, according to a spokeswoman. In a letter to him, they said that under the law the letter could not be released except to a law enforcement official 'conducting a criminal investigation of a license holder of the TMB.' Nurses are not licensed by the [MB]. ... Instead of coorrecting the board's assumptions, the sherriff used the letter to identify the nurse who was over 50 and had been with the hospital since the 1980s. He obtained a search warrant of her computers and found a copy of the letter. ... Within weeks however, [DA] Mike Fostel offered a deal: The indictment would be dropped if the women agreed not to sue the county or its hospital. Smart man, but it didn't work. The nurses filed a federal lawsuit. ... Meanwhile the Texas [MB] has expressed its 'grave concern' about the indictments to Fostel and Tidwell. And national nursing organizations, outraged, raised $40,000 for the women's defense according to the [New York] Times", my emphasis, Rick Casey at the Houston Chronicle, 12 February 2010, link:

"A West Texas jury took but an hour Thursday to acquit a nurse who had been charged with a felony after alerting the state [MB] that a doctor at her hostpital was practising unsafe medicine. ... The jury foreman said the panel of six men and six women voted unanimously on the first ballot, and questioned why Mrs. Mitchell had ever been arrested. ... The prosecution has so polarized the small town of Kermit, where the hospital is located, that the judge moved the trial to a neighboring county. The case was investigated by Sherriff Robert L. Roberts Jr. a friend and admiring patient ot Dr. Arafiles, and tried by the county attorney, Scott M. Tidwell, a political ally of the sherriff and, according to testimony, Dr. Arafile's personal lawyer", Kevin Sack at the NYT, 12 February 2010:

This case shows why we need juries. The jury deliberated less than an hour to acquit Mitchell.

Amazing. A 2009 version of a "traveling medicine show". Well, how about an indictment of Fostel and Tidwell for "extortion under color of right", 18 USC 1951?

Quoted without comment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

" about an indictment of Fostel and Tidwell..."

That's the ticket...