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May 15, 2023

Lots of sentencing coverage as part of Season 1 of "Drugs on the Docket" podcast

Podcast artwork_for web2I am extremely pleased to highlight that the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center at The Ohio State University has now officially launched Season One of a new podcast, "Drugs on the Docket."  All six episodes of this season are available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and YouTube.  My colleagues at DEPC have worked remarkably hard to put this content together, and I hope folks find the curated discussions interesting and informative.

Here is how the podcast subject matter is described via this podcast webpage along with episode titles:

Drugs on the Docket is a production of the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center (DEPC) at The Ohio State University. Each episode explores how U.S. court rulings — primarily those handed down from the Supreme Court — impact drug law and policy and continue to shape the War on Drugs.  Drugs on the Docket unpacks various ways courts have engaged with and responded to the opioid epidemic, police discretion, the sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine, and more.  The series, hosted by Hannah Miller, invites guests with expertise in criminal justice, drug policy, and drug enforcement to help us break down the sometimes complex and always interesting stories behind today’s drug law landscape.

Drugs on the Docket is produced by DEPC’s Service Engagement Project Manager Hannah Miller and Public Engagement Specialist Holly Griffin.  DEPC Executive Director Douglas A. Berman is our editorial advisor.  Music by Joe DeWitt.

Episode 1 – Federal drug sentencing and the evolution of the crack to powder cocaine ratio with Mark Osler

Episode 2Ruan v. United States and the intersection of healthcare, criminal law, and the opioid crisis with Jenn Oliva and Kelly Gillespie

Episode 3 – A Special Conversation with former Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor

Episode 4United States v. Angelos, federal mandatory minimums, and sentencing reform with Weldon Angelos and Paul Cassell

Episode 5 – Data and storytelling in federal drug sentencing and the U.S. Sentencing Commission with Doug Passon and Mark Allenbaugh

Episode 6Whren v. United States, Terry v. Ohio, and the Fourth Amendment with Gabriel “Jack” Chin

In helping with this effort, I came to realize fully just how much work is involved in podcast production.  Still, if this first season finds an audience, we may soon begin the hard work of producing another season.  And so recommendations for fitting topics and guests are welcome.

May 15, 2023 at 05:56 PM | Permalink


Doug: You may recall when Bill Swinford and I prevailed on the Sixth Circuit to reverse U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell's denial of the Heas Corpus Motion of our client, Ali Sawaf, M.D. We prevailed based upon ineffective assistance of trial counsel at plea bargaining. Sawaf's young defense lawyer, just 3 years out of law school and handling his first ever Federal criminal case, told Sawaf to turn down a 41-month plea offer, but gave him no estimate of the amount of time he was facing if he was convicted at trial. Dr. Sawaf was utterly shocked to be receive the statutory maximum sentence of 20 years for violations of 21 U. S. Code section 841(b)(1)(C) after being convicted of most counts at trial. Notably, the Government put up no evidence of drug quantity at Dr. Sawaf's sentencing, but his counsel made no objection to perfect the issue and did not raise it as an issue in Sawaf's first appeal, so the issue was waived. Without objection, Judge Caldwell included every narcotic pill that Sawaf had prescribed for more than 2,000 patients, without any physician every reviewing or opining about 1,950 + of the files. Sawaf's daughter-in-law, who is both a criminal defense attorney and a physician learned that defense counsel had no idea how long Sawaf's sentence might be because he had not consulted and did not own a copy of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manuel. He ordered a copy from West's Publishing Co. after Sawaf was convicted. See, Ali H. Sawaf v. United States, 570 F. App'x. 544 (6th Cir. 2014). Doug, you made a post about Dr. Sawaf's 2255 reversal by the Sixth Circuit back in 2014. Judge Caldwell sentenced Dr. Sawaf to "time served", rather than the lost 41-month plea offer, because she wanted to protect the Government and defense counsel from being sued over the extra 10 years that Sawaf served. Indeed, it's a travesty that it took 5 years (including the appeal) to litigate Sawaf's 2255 Motion, including the appeal. Dr. Sawaf is now 80 years old and still wants to find a way to practice urology again. He may soon file a Petition for a Writ of Error Coram Nobis, based upon the Supreme Court's decision in Ruan v. United States, which means that the Jury Instructions given at his trial were erroneous, as to his mens rea in prescribing that was necessary for conviction. Judge Karen Caldwell is now a Senior Judge. Sawaf' trial was her first ever as a Federal Judge, after being confirmed by the Senate. So, stay tuned.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | May 15, 2023 11:31:35 PM

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