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LA County Judge Throws Out All Guilty Verdicts Against Stern

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Last year, Howard K. Stern was convicted by a California jury of drug conspiracy charges related to prescription drugs he allegedly obtained for his girlfriend Anna Nicole Smith. Smith died of a drug overdose in 2007. Prosecutors charged Stern, Smith's psychiatrist and primary physician with a total of 23 felony charges. In October, a jury acquitted the primary physician of all charges, but Stern and the psychiatrist received several convictions in the matter.

Thursday, Los Angeles County superior Court Judge Robert Perry threw out the convictions against Stern. The judge also dismissed two drug conspiracy convictions obtained against the psychiatrist and reduced one conviction to a misdemeanor. The California drug charges against the two could have resulted in hefty prison sentences had the convictions stood.

The judge in the case stated Thursday that the jury completely acquitted the primary physician of all charges. He said the verdict acquitting the lead defendant in the case was a "stunning repudiation of the prosecution's case." The judge indicated his regret for not taking action earlier. The judge reportedly said the state's case was flawed based upon the prosecutor's misunderstanding of the law related to conspiracy.

The judge believed the psychiatrist was acting under a "heartfelt desire to help" Smith when the psychiatrist prescribed the medication to her. The judge found that Stern was acting to protect Smith's privacy in obtaining prescription medication under an alias. Stern acted as Smith's manager at the time.

Upon sentencing, the judge imposed a $100 fine on the psychiatrist for the conviction the judge reduced to a misdemeanor. The judge also imposed one year of summary probation.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Most convictions thrown out in Anna Nicole Smith drug trial," Victoria Tim 7 Jan 2011

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