Recently, the criminal defense advocate Michael Fienman came to the aid of a prisoner in Montgomery County Correctional Facility whose legal troubles sadly continued while he was serving a sentence for a previous DUI. During his incarceration, the man noticed an abscess, caused by MRSA, which is rampant in prisons. The man did not want to seek treatment in the prison infirmary but was involved in a work release program at a construction site. This privilege allowed him to leave the correctional facility for a portion of the day, where he could self-treat this sore, using the job site’s first aid kit, before returning at the end of the day. His regime involved changing the dressing with gauze and taking Aleve to manage the pain that he was experiencing since he could not bring any medications into the facility. The man was eventually subjected to a random drug screening, which showed a positive result for marijuana. Believing he had violated the terms of the work release program and the facility’s regulations by using marijuana, he was thrown out of the program and further punished by being held in solitary confinement. The man was adamant that he did not use the illicit substance and was terrified that these new charges would keep him isolated and his sentence would be extended.

While he was in solitary confinement, the inmate’s girlfriend contacted attorney Fienman in desperation, who agreed to help the young man. After reviewing the facts and performing some research, it became clear that the man’s self-treatment is what led to his positive marijuana test result. Apparently, a little-known effect of taking over the counter pain relievers containing Naproxen, such as Aleve, is that they can create a false positive for marijuana in urinalysis drug screens. Even with this exculpatory information, Fienman found it difficult to secure his client’s release from solitary by dealing directly with the facility because the prison administrators already believed the man to be guilty. However, attorney Fienman was resolute on behalf of his client and circumvented the facility by obtaining an order from a Montgomery County’s president judge, which compelled a new drug test. Once the new test revealed the man had not used marijuana, the original test was voided and he was finally released from solitary confinement. Furthermore, Fienman also saw his the man’s expulsion from the work release program as another wrong that needed to be corrected and after discussing the situation with the program director, his work release privileges were restored. The man was relieved to be free from these dubious charges, so he could finish paying his debt and rejoin society, which may not have been possible if not for the legal intervention of attorney Fienman.

The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.

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