Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, April 17, 2006

Williams: Booker Inapplicable to Restitution

In U.S. v. Williams, No. 04-15117 (Apr. 13, 2006), the Court affirmed a doctor’s convictions and sentence for unlawfully dispensing controlled substances.
The Court rejected the argument that expert testimony regarding the ordinary standard of care for dispensing controlled substances should not have been admitted. Noting that the testimony was not objected to at trial, the Court pointed out that this issues was only reviewable for "plain error." The Court found no plain error as no authority existed in any Circuit holding that evidence of noncompliance with the civil standard of care is inadmissible to prove that the action at issue was also outside the course of professional medical practice.
The Court also rejected Williams’ challenge to the jury instruction regarding the standard of care, because it failed to introduce any objective standard by which a physician’s prescribing behavior can be judged. Williams had urged that his "good faith" was a basis for a not guilty verdict. The Court noted that "good faith" did not suffice as a defense to this provision of the Controlled Substances Act.
The Court rejected Williams’ argument that Booker applied to the restitution portion of his sentence. Joining all other Circuits to have addressed the issue, the Court held that the amount of restitution can be imposed by a judge, without jury findings.