Judge Nixes Jury’s Drug Convictions of Anna Nicole Smith’s Boyfriend and Lawyer
Posted Jan 6, 2011 3:02 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Launched with much fanfare last year by California's then-attorney general, a high-profile trial of three professionals criminally charged for allegedly helping celebrity and "known addict" Anna Nicole Smith obtain prescription drugs before her death of an accidental overdose has now almost entirely fizzled out.
Superior Court Judge Robert Perry today dismissed last year's jury conviction against the former Playboy bunny's boyfriend and lawyer, Howard K. Stern, reports the Associated Press, saying it didn't appear Stern intended to violate the law when he helped Smith obtain prescriptions under other names.
"I don't think there's evidence that a layperson knows it's illegal to write a prescription in another name for a celebrity," the judge said in September, when he dismissed two other charges against Stern in the Los Angeles case.
Today he called the evidence against Stern at trial "lacking and insufficient" and disputed her charactization by the government as a addict, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Perry also today dismissed or vacated three felony drug convictions of a psychiatrist for Smith and reduced the one remaining conviction in the case to a misdemeanor. He then sentenced Dr. Khristine Eroshevich to a year of probation and fined her $100.
The jury last year didn't convict another physician tried in the case.
District Attorney Steve Cooley vowed to appeal today's rulings by the judge, reports the L.A. Now blog of the Los Angeles Times.
The judge's decision “diminishes the huge social problem of prescription drug abuse facilitated by irresponsible caretakers and unscrupulous medical professionals,” he said in a written statement.
Updated at 3:16 p.m. to include subsequent coverage about Cooley's reaction.