By Dave Andrusko
When convicted abortionist Kermit Gosnell was sentenced in May 2013 on three counts of first degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter, we knew at the time there would be further legal proceedings. There were other Gosnell employees who were yet to be sentenced, for starters. And there were still pending federal charges that Gosnell had operated a “pill mill.”
What that meant was at the same time he was killing hundreds of viable unborn babies (and actually murdering three of them by delivering them alive and then severing their spinal cords), he was making another fortune illegally selling prescription drugs.
But even then, I strongly suspected we’d not heard the last of the man who operated what the Philadelphia District Attorney called a “House of Horrors.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Joseph A. Slobodzian, who provided the best and most comprehensive coverage of the Gosnell pretrial, trial, and post-trial developments, reported this week that Gosnell has been busy trying to appeal the 30-year sentence he received for running a pill mill. (Those were federal charges. The murder charges were under state law.) Here’s the chronology of the latest legal maneuvers.
To be clear, Gosnell could not appeal his murder convictions in Common Pleas Court because he had agreed to waive his appeal rights, provided prosecutors didn’t press for a death sentence. He was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.
For reasons of his own, however, Gosnell decided to appeal his federal pill mill case. This didn’t seem to be any exit for Gosnell here either, because he had agreed to waive “his federal appeal rights when he pleaded guilty before a judge in exchange for having his [additional] 30-year prison term run concurrently with his three consecutive life terms,” according to Slobodzian.
In fact, back in January he did appeal. The grounds?
Gosnell argued that he could not have knowingly agreed to waive his federal appeal rights because the judge had warned him that if Gosnell lied, he could reject the plea agreement, and Gosnell would “lose the benefits that you now have in your plea agreement.”
But, Gosnell’s court pleadings maintained, there were really no benefits in his federal deal – what did a 30-year term mean when Gosnell was already serving three life terms?
Prosecutors were not swayed by his “novel” defense. The wheels of justice moved slightly faster than usual. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit “granted federal prosecutors’ request to enforce Gosnell’s decision to waive his appellate rights.” That was in July.
Three months later, Gosnell asked the Supreme Court to hear his appeal. The justices turned down his appeal on November 10.