Judge: Jury Won’t Get Some Charges In Smith Case
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The judge in the Anna Nicole Smith drug conspiracy case, often critical of charges lodged by the prosecution, indicated for the first time Monday he will block some of the charges from going to the jury.
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry told lawyers he was preparing a lengthy written analysis of statutes in the case and would consider motions by the defense next week to dismiss all charges.
However, he told defense lawyers to be prepared to begin their case because, “I think there are some charges that will likely survive in some form.”
Perry did not specify which charges might be dismissed. He has said he believes some of the charges were in conflict with state law.
The judge has repeatedly said he did not think testimony from prosecution witnesses supported conspiracy charges against the defendants.
Dr. Sandeep Kapoor, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Smith’s boyfriend-lawyer Howard K. Stern have pleaded not guilty to providing opiates and sedatives to an addict and other charges.
Perry has also raised questions about the legal definition of addiction. He said he was inclined to tell jurors that an element of the charge of prescribing to an addict must be that the defendant prescribed a drug for non-therapeutic purposes, meaning they were feeding an addiction rather than treating an illness.
In Smith’s case, the defense has stressed that she had chronic pain, seizures, migraine headaches, fractured ribs and other complaints that required treatment.
Pain management expert Dr. Perry G. Fine testified Monday that Smith’s doctors never diagnosed her as a prescription drug addict.
Testifying for defendant Kapoor, Fine said he reviewed Kapoor’s records and those of doctors who preceded him in treating Smith for pain.
“There was nothing, nothing, nothing that said a diagnosis of drug addiction was ever made in her case,” he said.
Perry has repeatedly instructed jurors to ignore definitions of addiction they hear from the witness stand.
He stepped in again during a cross-examination by Deputy District Attorney David Barkhurst about whether Smith’s treatment at the Betty Ford Center in 1996 for self-described alcohol and Vicodin addiction meant her doctors should have known she was an addict.
The judge told the jury, “There has been testimony in this trial that there is a difference between addiction, dependence and tolerance.”
Fine was allowed to testify for the defense before the prosecution rested because of a scheduling conflict.
Prosecutors were expected to call two more witnesses against Kapoor before resting their case.
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