Friday, September 3, 2004

Eye surgeon?s trial starts Wednesday

Change of venue request by Graham denied

Express Staff Writer

Fifth District Judge Robert Elgee on Thursday denied a request to move the damage lawsuit trial against Dr. Stephen Graham from Blaine County and ordered jury selection to begin Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 10:30 a.m.

However, Elgee told attorneys in the litigation that if a ?fair? and ?im-partial? jury can?t be impaneled, he would order the trial moved to Twin Falls County.

Graham, the Wood River Valley?s only resident ophthalmologist, is being sued by Dr. Jerrold Goldman for unspecified damages. Goldman, a retired physician who lives in Sun Valley, claims he lost sight in one eye after Graham performed cataract sur-gery in July, 2000.

Subsequent to the surgery, in an unrelated action, Graham?s license to practice as an eye surgeon was sus-pended in 2003 for five years by the Idaho Board of Medicine on allega-tions that he prescribed thousands of doses of medication to Internet phar-macy patients that he only met on the telephone and had not personally examined. Graham signed a consent decree not challenging the suspen-sion, but denying the allegations.

Medical boards in Arizona and Utah, where Graham also is licensed and is reported by his Ketchum office to practice two days a week each, have placed him on a year?s probation on the same grounds. Graham also is a licensed optometrist and that prac-tice is not affected by the Idaho sus-pension or sanctions in Arizona and Utah.

A motion to move the trial was filed by Graham?s attorney, Richard Hall, of Boise, contending that arti-cles in the Idaho Mountain Express about the lawsuit and the license sus-pension made a fair jury trial impos-sible.

The attorney for Goldman, Lee Schlender, disagreed.

Elgee heard arguments on the motion with Hall present in the court chambers while Schlender was on a telephone hookup. A court clerk later confirmed the essence of Elgee?s decision, which came after nearly two hours of arguments by the attorneys.

After Elgee?s ruling, Schlender said he believes an impartial jury can be impaneled, insisting that ?the fair-est people in the Northwest live in Blaine County--it?s an open and fair-minded society.?

Hall was en route to Boise and could not be immediately reached for comment, his office told the Express Thursday afternoon.

Graham, who has not responded to Express requests for comment, oper-ates the Boston Eye Center in Ketchum.

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