High Court Poised To Make DOJ’s Job Harder In Opioid Cases

March 02, 2022

Prosecutor Feigin kicked off his argument Tuesday by invoking the allegations against Ruan and Kahn. He contended that they “want to be free of any obligation even to undertake any minimal effort to act like doctors” when authorizing the use of prescription narcotics that have contributed to the nation’s devastating opioid crisis.

But that approach found little traction. While Feigin was still delivering his opening remarks, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. interrupted him and said, “It seems to me that … you’re arguing evidence in a case that’s about legal standards.”

Farrell Fritz PC partner Kevin P. Mulry, a former DOJ trial attorney who’s been tracking the case, called that interruption a noteworthy moment that suggested the justices are looking beyond the conduct of Ruan and Kahn.

“I would [distinguish] sympathetic to the petitioners from sympathetic to the argument their lawyers were advancing,” Mulry said. “The government led off with the facts of the case, and [Justice Roberts] said, ‘Look, this is really a case about the legal standard — why don’t you get to that?'”

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