United States v. John Gayden (11th Cir. October 2020)

The Federal Docket

November 10, 2020

Speedy Trial – Dismissal of an indictment is not warranted where, despite a defendant’s being prejudiced by government delay, the defendant cannot show any deliberate act by the government in causing the delay for tactical advantage.

Fourth Amendment/PDMP – Physicians do not have standing to challenge the search of a state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

Dr. John Gayden was convicted of running a pill mill and appealed his conviction and sentence. Dr. Gayden was indicted in September 2011, five years after his medical clinic was shut down in 2011. In that time, law enforcement had investigated his history of prescribing practices through Florida’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), a tool frequently used in investigating pill mills. Law enforcement also used administrative subpoenas and search warrants to obtain patient records and recordings from pharmacies.

On appeal, Dr. Gayden raised several challenges. First, he brought a speedy trial challenge, arguing that he was prejudiced by the government’s delay in indicting him since records obtained via adminsitrative subpoenas had since been destroyed and his mother and office manager, potential witnesses, had died before trial.

The Eleventh Circuit rejected the challenge, finding that, even if he was prejudiced, he did not establish that the Government acted deliberately “to gain a tactical advantage over him.” The Government had responded that it needed additional time since it had to retain a new expert.

Dr. Gayden also argued that the evidence obtained from the search of Florida’s PDMP should be suppressed since there was no warrant authorizing the search. The Court rejected this claim as well, finding that the third party doctrine applied and that Carpenter, where SCOTUS declined to extend the third party doctrine to cell site towers, did not. Here, there was no special privacy interest in his prescribing records, and any interest would be the patients’ not the provider’s. Dr. Gayden had also voluntarily disclosed the information to PDMP by participating in it, and he also disclosed it to pharmacies when he issued the prescriptions.

The Court also rejected challenges relating to a search of Dr. Gayden’s mother’s house, the government’s expert, and his sentence.

Appeal from the Middle District of Florida

Opinion by Tallman (by designation from the 9th Cir.), joined by Martin and Rosenbaum

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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