Richard Paey

Back in April, 2004, over 2 1/2 years ago, I posted that you could Rest Easier.

You can rest easy now. Richard Paey, 45-year-old father of three,
wheelchair bound and disabled from a car accident in 1985, suffering
also from multiple sclerosis, is safely locked away for the next 25
years because he purchased pharmaceutical-grade medication to ease his

This is the original Hit & Run article from Jacob Sullum I linked to. It’s taken this much time for his appeal to reach the appropriate District Court.


There’s a lot of information out there, so I really don’t need to rehash it.

Well… I don’t know what else I can say. Depressing? Disgusting? Embarrassing? Yes, especially embarrassing. To think that I could identify myself with a perceptual tag — American — in a place where others who identify themselves identically, not only actively support such a thing, but perform and carry it out, institutionally, as a matter of "justice." My conscience reels in the shame, even though I’m quite clear that I have nothing to do with this, am not responsible for the actions of others, and am speaking out as a matter of moral principle.

This is a moral issue, and what has happened to Richard Paey and his family is profoundly immoral. The word "evil" gets tossed around a lot these days — including by me — and whenever that happens there’s always danger of the loss of impact. So be it; things are what they are: this is evil. The dissenting appellate judge called it "cruel" and "unusual." Of course, that’s for the purpose of making a legal identification, as the constitution "guarantees" your freedom from such punishment. But note: the guarantee is not as against cruel or unusual, but cruel and unusual, which — and I’m not kidding, because I deal with this legal principle all the time in my business — means that cruel punishments are entirely constitutional so long as they are usual ones. So, simply, all that is necessary to show that Paey’s punishment is constitutional, is to simply show that more than a single court system applies the same punishment — even if the courts were to acknowledge its cruelty. Accordingly, the dissenting judge is legally incorrect. Paey’s 25-year sentence for acquiring and taking pain medication is cruel, not unusual, and so perfectly constitutional. Just in time for that 215th birthday, eh?

I drafted and sent a concise email to Florida Governor, Jeb Bush

Subj: Pardon Richard Paey

Mr. Bush:

Have the decency. Just do it.

In my original entry, I hoped that the pharmacists who alerted the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office to Paey’s pain-med use rot in hell. Well, let me add a few to that list:

  • Those of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office with any hand in this.
  • The Pasco County prosecutors who had a hand in this.
  • Those of the Pasco County District Attorney’s Office with any hand in this.
  • Those of the Florida Legislature instrumental in getting the law passed, to which everyone subordinate gets to excuse their own conscience ’cause  "they were just doing their job."
  • Jeb Bush, for not already pardoning Richard Paey, and for continuing to not pardon Richard Paey.
  • All the judges in all the courts who have "done their job" in correctly interpreting the law and imposing sentence, even in admitted contradiction to their own principles of conscience.
  • Any of you, should you in any way give sanction to this evil.

May you all rot in hell.

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  1. Kyle Bennett on December 18, 2006 at 11:46


    Maybe if Rush had been forced to go fully through the same kind of hell he advocates for others – an actual hell of the kind Richard Paey has gone through, not the "hell" of a few court dates and a cushy rehab – he might have come to his senses.

    Of course, in that case, his enlightenment would have come too late to do either him or his listeners any good. He'd be rotting in a cell without access to his "Golden EIB Microphone".

  2. Richard Nikoley on December 18, 2006 at 12:37

    I'd thought about including Limbaugh in that post, particularly since it was Florida that went after him.

    It is certainly an example of "whose justice?" as I'm sure Rush's ability to hire a team of top lawyers is what made all the difference. That, and the potential fallout from prosecuting someone so popular to so many. For prosecutors, that certainly must have appeared as a double-edged sword.

    It's most disappointing that so far as I know, Rush is still the same drug-war cheerleader he's always been. I'm certainly happy for his result. Regardless of his hypocrisy, the solution isn't to put Rush behind bars, but to free Paey.

  3. Lute Nikoley on December 18, 2006 at 11:05

    Rush Limbaugh went through hell in Florida for the same "crime" of aquiering and doctor shopping for pain medication.

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