Newsbrief: Pain Doctor Weitzel Retrial Underway in Utah 11/15/02

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Salt Lake City psychiatrist Robert Weitzel is in court this week defending himself for a second time against state charges that he killed patients under his care in 1995 and 1996. Prosecutors accuse Weitzel of causing the deaths of five mentally and terminally ill elderly patients by treating them with psychotropic drugs and morphine while working for the geropsychiatric unit at Davis Hospital and Medical Center (

Weitzel was originally charged with murder, but a jury found him guilty of manslaughter in 2000. He served six months of a 15-year sentence before being released after an appeals judge found the prosecution had not disclosed evidence that would have vindicated his medical judgment.

He maintains his innocence and has assembled a strong defense team that has, according to his daily e-mails to supporters, effectively cross-examined prosecution witnesses. The defense will present its case next week, with Weitzel scheduled to take the stand November 22.

Although Weitzel at first received little support from his colleagues in the Utah Medical Association, concerns over unwarranted prosecution in his case seem to have inspired the association to pass a resolution condemning such practices last month: "The Utah Medical Association opposes the criminalization of medical care and sees unfounded accusations of physicians in criminal court and the criminal trial of physicians' professional judgment and quality of practice as a serious threat to patient care in the State of Utah and an unreasonable burden on the medical profession," read the resolution.

Then, in an implicit reference to the Weitzel case, the resolution added: "We believe that when a medical expert admonishes a prosecutor against filing a criminal complaint, it behooves the prosecutor to reconsider his position and at least seek the opinion of the Utah Medical Association, the Physicians Licensing Board, or some other regularly established and constituted panel of medical peers. Neither Utah's physicians nor their patients can afford this type of judicial embarrassment. It is a serious threat to good patient care for all Utah's citizens."

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Issue #263, 11/15/02 The Week Online Needs Your Help! | Massachusetts: Marijuana on the Move? | Anaheim Conference Reinvigorates Battered Reformers -- Hundreds Gather to Examine Defeats, Plot New Strategies | Narco News Interview with Gustavo de Greiff | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: FCC Says Anti-Drug Ads Must Identify White House Sponsorship | Newsbrief: San Diego Medical Marijuana Rally to Go Transnational | Newsbrief: Hungry Utah Cops Nibbling at Edges of Asset Forfeiture Reform Law, Lying Through Their Teeth as They Campaign | Newsbrief: Free Speech Battle in Tampa after Leafleting Arrest | Newsbrief: Canada Gives Go-Ahead to Safe Injection Sites, First to Open Early Next Year | Newsbrief: Pain Doctor Hurwitz Raided in Virginia | Newsbrief: Pain Doctor Weitzel Retrial Underway in Utah | Newsbrief: Arkansas Prisons Say Methamphetamine Penalties Should Be Lowered | Newsbrief: Border Patrol Begins Random Stops in Michigan | Web Scan: Washington Office on Latin America, Andean Information Network, Latin America Working Group, Miami Herald, Harry Levine | Harm Reduction Coalition Seeking Articles and Artwork for "The Anonymous Issue" | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum | The Reformer's Calendar

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