After nearly six long years of waiting, it appears Dr. Dipak Desai finally will face his day in court. It’s a gross understatement to say it’s about time.
Desai stands accused of exposing his colonoscopy patients to hepatitis C by reusing syringes and bottles of single-use anesthetic at his gastroenterology clinics. One former patient, Rodolfo Meana, died from hepatitis C linked to Desai’s clinic, and the doctor faces a second-degree murder charge and theft and fraud counts as a result. Six more people contracted the disease that’s been genetically linked to patients treated at Desai’s clinics in 2007. Thousands of Southern Nevadans had to be tested for blood-borne diseases after the outbreak was made public.
District Judge Valerie Adair made the manifestly correct call Tuesday when she ruled against a request to further delay the trial. Desai’s defense attorney, Richard Wright, said a recent stroke had left Desai unable to participate in his own defense.
Desai’s counsel has used the stroke excuse before, but experts in Nevada and California have examined the defendant and come to the same conclusion: He’s exaggerating the effects of the stroke to avoid facing a criminal jury.
Mr. Wright objected to Judge Adair’s ruling, saying he’s unprepared for the trial. Desai could not speak “recognizable” words, Mr. Wright said.
But Mr. Wright has had years to prepare for Desai’s trial, years during which he’s primarily occupied himself with arguing his client’s incompetence. That argument has now been put down, and it’s time to proceed. While Mr. Wright has pledged to appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court, there appears to be ample grounds for justices to deny the request for yet another delay. Justices should let the trial go forward.
The victims of Desai’s alleged crimes have waited long enough. They’ve watched civil trials related to the scandal begin and end, with huge judgments against third parties remotely involved in the case. They’ve been left to despair whether the accused author of their misery would ever face justice. This trial should begin, on time, Monday morning.