Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anna Nicole Smith Trial: Day One Recap

Last Wednesday we were able to watch the opening arguments for the defense in the case of The People vs. Khristine Eroshevich, Sandeep Kapoor, and Howard K. Stern, more colloquially known as the "Anna Nicole Smith case". The defendants are charged with, " unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance to an addict, obtaining a prescription by deceit, fraud, and conspiracy." Dr. Eroshevich was a psychiatrist and Ms. Smith's former neighbor, Dr, Kapoor prescribed medicine for Ms. Smith and was her doctor, and Howard K. Stern was Anna's lawyer as well as friend/partner. The lawyers for the defense are Ms. Garofalo representing Dr. Kapoor, Mr. Sadow representing Mr. Stern, and Mr. Braun representing Dr. Eroshevich.

I unfortunately didn't catch Mr. Sadow's argument on paper. But he basically attested to the fact that Mr. Stern loved Anna and wouldn't do anything to hurt her. He said she needed the drugs to be out of pain and that Howard K. Stern would do anything to soothe her pain.

Dr. Kapoor's attorney said that Anna and Dr. Kapoor had no "social relationship". Dr. Kapoor was not her primary doctor by any means, Dr. Kovner was the one in charge of managing her pain. She went on to chronicle how Ms. Smith had a history of "chronic" pain and for this pain she took opiates, benzo's, and other similar drugs. Dr. Kapoor never doubted that she was actually in pain. And when Ms. Smith followed Dr. Kapoor's pain management plan she felt okay. The lawyer reiterated many times that Anna had, "long term, chronic, unrelenting pain that must be treated". The lawyer stated that there was a legitimate medical purpose to prescribe her medication (and feed her addiction) because of this chronic pain. She also mentioned that the doctor's medical judgement wasn't criminal and that the doctor should be immune from prosecution because the doctor acted in good faith. During Smith's treatment Dr. Kapoor was super vigilant in managing her medication, but Ms. Smith neglected to tell him about her pregnancy. After he found out about her pregnancy he arranged for her to go to Cedars. Cedars used the same regimen of drugs that Dr. Kapoor put her on, lowering the dosages during the last few months of pregnancy to try to get her off her medications. Basically, the layer was arguing to the jury that Dr. Kapoor acted correctly in prescribing her medications while she was addicted to them (feeding her habit) because of her chronic pain and that was corroborated by other doctors and Cedars.

Mr. Braun came at the jury from a different angle, first talking about how the facts of the case changed. He mentioned many times that the people saying Dr. Eroshevich acted badly were "corrupted" by fame and fortune and therefore were changing the facts of the case. He then went a bit into Dr. E's background to make the point she was a "real" doctor, not a doctor seeking fame. In fact, she stumbled into this by accident. She was Anna's neighbor and met her at a party. So, when Ms. Smith hurt her back she called Dr. E to prescribe her some medication. Dr. E was criticized for not performing tests, but many doctors medicate first before they do tests because they see the symptoms and know what to prescribe. If the medication doesn't work, then they do tests. Then the attorney recounts how Ms. Smith called Dr. E in a "panic" after her son died. She needed medication so Dr. E brought her anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication in Bermuda. They bought different types of medications (her and doctor K) to see which one would work and help her. They were criticized for buying to many and that all of those drugs together was "pharma suicide", but it wasn't since all of the medications weren't taken together. The issue of pseudonyms was mentioned by her attorney and he said that they used different names for Smith to protect her privacy not to conceal improper activities. Also, some "proof" offered by her attorney was that if Dr. E was trying to hide something why would she willfully turn over Smith's various medications to the coroner? She wouldn't.

Then the court recessed for the afternoon.

All in all, the opening arguments were really interesting and a lot of good questions were posed to the jury.

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