NJ Needle Exchange Continues Legal Battle: Medical Necessity Defense Rejected By Judge 11/15/97

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Late last summer, DRCNet reported that Diana McCague and Thomas Scozzare of the Chai Project needle exchange program in New Brunswick, New Jersey had been convicted of violating state law by providing a sterile syringe to an undercover police officer, and asked our members to respond in the media (http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1997/8-13-1.html).

On Friday, November 7, McCague and Scozzare went before the Honorable Joyce Munkasci in State Superior Court, Middlesex County. According to McCague, Judge Munkasci claimed to come to the case with an open mind, but then refused to grant an extension when their attorneys asked for more time to prepare briefs, stated that they had not proven that needle exchange is effective (despite testimony from well known scientists Don Des Jarlais and Ernest Drucker), openly questioned McCague's veracity and indicated that the medical necessity defense did not apply since the undercover officer who requested syringes did not present as someone who was in imminent danger country. McCague commented, "I believe that I am being punished for my audacity -- not because I caused anyone any harm."

Judge Munkasci also refused to stay the penalties while the case in appeal -- $1,446 in fines, and a six month driver's license suspension. McCague makes a living driving a taxi, hence a license suspension would be a severe hardship. The appellate court granted an emergency stay on the license suspension, pending appeal, leaving the $1,446.

Grassroots support for the Chai Project in the way of donations to cover the fine would help the Chai Project continue, and would also make good PR. If you would like to help the Chai Project, call Diana McCague at (732) 247-7014 or e-mail [email protected].

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Issue #19, 11/15/97 NJ Needle Exchange Continues Legal Battle: Medical Necessity Defense Rejected By Judge | Virginia Pushes Envelope on Pain Control: Medical Society Calls For Greater Acceptance Of Narcotics | Marihuana The Forbidden Medicine: Revised and Expanded Edition of the Landmark Book by Grinspoon and Bakalar | Media Alert: Magazine Does Hatchet Job on San Francisco's Reform-Minded District Attorney | Events: The Reformer's Calendar Updated -- Events Coming Right Up! | Junior High Student Suspended for Supplying Cough Drop | Drug Czar "Sends a Message" to the Pentagon Over Anti- Drug Budget: Military Reluctant To Expand Drug War Involvement | Shultz And Friedman Tell California Cops "Drug War is a Dismal Failure" | Undercover Federal Narc Shoots Teen Holding Candy Bar | Consumption of (Legal) Alcohol Plunges | 18 Students Share Needle in Science Class | 51% of Canadians Favor Decriminalization of Marijuana | Clinton Removes Syria, Lebanon from List of Problem Drug Trafficking Nations | Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferer Gets 9-Month Suspended Sentence in England | Colorado Governor Calls for Sentencing Reform: Prefers Alternatives to Incarceration and Educational Spending | Editorial: Youth are Victims of Drug War
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