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Los Angeles County Prosecutors Receive National Award for Excellence

Jan 17, 2012 | | Drug policy, Michael Jackson homicide trial | No Comments

Drug Abuse Prevention Organization Cites Moderation, Preparation.

January 17, 2012 – Washington, DC – Today, a national coalition dedicated to reducing prescription drug abuse recognized Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorneys David Walgren and Deborah Brazil for their excellence in the prosecution of Dr. Conrad Murray. A jury unanimously found Murray guilty last November of involuntary manslaughter for causing the 2009 death of pop star Michael Jackson. Murray received the maximum sentence, four years in prison. When I asked my friend about it (he’s a hotshot Los Angeles criminal defense attorney) – he said this was a rather awful situation for the individual being charged.

The not-for-profit Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence (CLAAD) praised Walgren and Brazil’s “sophistication in handling complex issues” related to the prescribing and dispensing of prescription medications. CLAAD is a coalition of some 30 health and safety organizations committed to reducing prescription drug abuse while protecting patient access to medical care.

“The successful prosecution of Dr. Conrad Murray by Deputy District Attorneys David Walgren and Deborah Brazil was professional and impeccably presented to the jury,” said Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. “Their work serves as a guide to other deputy district attorneys as we in Los Angeles County prosecute ‘Dr. Feelgoods’ whose indiscriminate dispensing of prescription drugs so often results in needless deaths.”

CLAAD commended Cooley for his national leadership in implementing the policy recommendations set forth in the National Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Strategy, which urges prosecutors to exercise moderation and to analyze facts in prescription drug cases from a medical perspective.

“Cooley’s office has set an example for other prosecutors across the country,” stated CLAAD spokesman Michael Barnes, a Washington, DC attorney and drug policy advisor. “Walgren and Brazil obviously did their homework. They handled complex medical and legal issues with extraordinary preparation and professionalism,” added Barnes, who analyzed the Murray trial for television networks CNN and HLN.

As part of CLAAD’s award for excellence, the organization presented Walgren and Brazil with engraved plaques and made a donation in their honor to the non-profit of their choice, Children’s Home Society & Family Services of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Murray committed 17 egregious violations of the medical standard of care during the hours before Jackson’s death, according to an expert who testified during the trial.

“As a practicing physician, I find Conrad Murray’s behavior abhorrent and an embarrassment,” said Lauren Trainor, D.O., of Huntington Beach, California.

Primary among the deviations was the prescribing of Propofol, a powerful anesthetic, to mimic the effects of sleep. A coroner’s investigation identified an overdose of Propofol and other controlled substances prescribed by Murray as the cause of Jackson’s death.

Prescription medications are increasingly used for purposes other than those for which they are intended and approved. The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled prescription drug abuse a national epidemic. More than 40 Americans die every day from overdoses involving pain relievers alone.

“The conviction of Conrad Murray sends a strong signal to rogue prescribers that there is no defense for their actions,” Barnes said.

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About the Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence

The non-profit Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence (CLAAD) coordinates a comprehensive national effort to prevent the diversion, misuse, and abuse of prescription medications while ensuring adequate medical care for patients in need. CLAAD enables health professionals, law enforcement, businesses, and government, among many other entities, to share resources and work together to reduce prescription drug abuse, addiction, and overdoses. CLAAD’s National Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Strategy has been endorsed by 30 non-profit organizations and may be accessed online at www.claad.org.

About the Los Angeles County District Attorney

Los Angeles County District Attorney (LADA) Steve Cooley directs some 1,000 attorneys, 300 investigators, and 800 support personnel who prosecute 60,000 felonies and 130,000 misdemeanors annually. Cooley oversees an annual operating budget of more than $330 million. In the midst of his third consecutive term, Cooley has established the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office as a premier prosecutorial agency in the nation. His staff includes recognized national experts in areas such as DNA evidence, public corruption, foreign extradition, fraud, and gang prosecution. To advance public safety, the District Attorney created the Criminal Justice Institute to provide training to justice system professionals.

About Children’s Home Society & Family Services

Founded in 1889, Children’s Home Society & Family Services (CHSFS) works to ensure that every child has security, opportunity, and a loving family. In its 122 years of service, Children’s Home Society & Family Services has united more than 23,690 children with permanent families.  Nationally, CHSFS is fully accredited by the Council on Accreditation; fully accredited by The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption; a founding member of the Child Welfare League of America; and a founding member of Children’s Home Society of America. CHSFS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization based in St. Paul, Minnesota, with offices in Virginia and Maryland.

For more information, please contact:
Paul Scott O’Neill, Policy Advisor
pso@claad.org
(703) 527-4550
http://www.claad.org

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