Now that Rush Limbaugh has turned himself in due to his plea deal with the Palm Beach prosecutor’s office, I thought a bit of discussion about what Rush has in store for his 18-months of supervised release would be helpful for everyone (well, everyone who hasn’t gone through a first time drug arrest anyway).
First off, this is a deferred prosecution — not a deferred judgment — which is a much, much better deal for Rush (and something of a coup for his defense counsel Roy Black, I have to say). Jeralyn did a fantastic job of explaining this in her Lexis/Nexis article, and she covers more about the deal at TalkLeft.
The fact that the prosecutors were this generous in the deal-making says to me they may have had difficulties getting Rush’s doctor to cooperate with them in terms of testimony and evidence provision.
Because the formal agreement between Rush and the Palm Beach County prosecutor won’t be filed until Monday, we can’t know exactly what the terms of supervision are going to be. I can tell you that the usual treatment for a first time drug offender can involve a deal like this — although they generally have to plead out to some charge, albeit a lesser included one, at the end of the suspended sentence supervision. In this case, Rush will walk with a clean record if he successfully completes the supervision.
Which leads me to the point I wanted to bring up — all of this is contingent on Rush actually completing the full term of supervision. He’ll likely have to check in with a probation supervisor in a regular basis, where he will have to pee in a cup in front of said supervisor for drug testing and monitoring at every check-in. (Just like every other criminal in the probation waiting room. If they make other provisions for him, then in my book it’s special treatment.) The reason you have to do the piss test in front of someone else is to prevent the testee from substituting someone else’s urine for their tainted sample. (Yes, it does happen. Ewww.) He’ll also have to submit to random testing — meaning his supervisory officer can randomly show up at his place of work, at his house, whatever, and make him pee in a cup.
He oughtn’t be allowed to be in places that serve alcohol without express permission from his supervisor, nor should he be taking any prescription medication without informing his supervisor of it. He’ll also likely have to refrain from having any alcohol or other potentially addictive substances in his home as a condition of supervision. If he does use illegal substances and tries to mask that use with one of the many products on the market that claim to work for that purpose, the testing that is done is designed to also pick up masking agents and their results as well.
And he’ll be required to check in regularly with his supervisor for a face to face chat, and to ask permission for travel or schedule changes that will take him outside the agreed-upon curfew hours. Just like everyone else. (Or, again, they are giving him special treatment.)
Should be an interesting 18 months for a man with an ego as big as Rush’s is. This isn’t an easy thing for a true addict to deal with — if he successfully completes treatment and sincerely wants to change, then he will likely make it through. You’ll pardon me if my prosecutor’s skepticism shows through on this a bit — oxycontin is a tough one to get past, and any — and I mean any — usage will get picked up by testing during that 18 month period. Guess we’ll see.
(Graphics love to the fabulous Originaldo.)
UPDATE: This just seemed completely obvious to me, but in retrospect, perhaps it isn’t so obvious to folks who haven’t spent their time around the courthouse.
Don’t get bamboozled. In criminal cases we don’t call them "settlement agreements." They are plea bargains.
And while the prosecutor’s recommendation to the court will carry great weight, the judge is not obligated to ratify the plea agreement.
Oh, and the money being paid is called a fine. Black can call it reimbursement, but that’s BS. (From TPM reader DK.)
Hat tip to Josh Marshall and to reader tryggth for the heads up on this. I ought to have made this more clear for the folks who haven’t spent an eternity wallowing in the criminal justice system. The NYTimes has more on the deal here.