After more than a month, the federal trial involving two Mobile pain doctors accused of illegally prescribing pain medications, is winding down.
Attorneys on both sides of the trial summed up weeks worth of evidence and testimonies in one final effort to convince the jury of their case during closing arguments on Thursday.
Together Dr. Patrick Couch and Dr. Xiulu Ruan are facing more than 20 federal charges including conspiracy, healthcare and mail fraud, and illegally prescribing pain medications at their clinic; Physicians Pain Specialists of Alabama.
The defense council told members of the jury it’s their responsibility to uphold the judicial system’s “presumption of innocence” responsibility, arguing that the government needed to prove the doctors had “fallen so far away from their careers that they were no longer considered to even be practicing medicine, but are drug dealers,” in order for the jury to rightfully convict them.
“You should want your money back,” defense attorney Dennis Knizley told the jury about the thousands of tax dollars spent on the trial.
“The defense wants to distract you from the core facts,” Prosecutor Chris Bodnar said, comparing the defense’s arguments to a bank robbery case. “If this were a bank robbery case, they would have said things like ‘ well, did he drive the speed limit? yes? That’s lawful. Did he pay the parking meter? That’s lawful.'”
Defense attorney Jeff Doss, who represents Dr. Couch, said the outcome of this trial effects everyone because it’s about the relationship between a doctor and his or her patients. Doss told the jury that the government was trying to make them judge Dr. Couch based on how deceptive Couch’s employees were, referencing how nurse practitioner Justin Palmer admitted to forging signatures on prescription pads.
“There are only two times you can say no to the government; in the voting booth or in the jury box,” Doss said claiming that the government was cynical and overreaching in their pursuant of the doctors. “If there is any question in your mind of whether or not Couch knew about this, then they have not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The jury will return Friday morning to receive instructions and begin their deliberations.