Pubdate: Wed, 22 Oct 2003
Source: Gamecock, The (SC Edu)
Copyright: 2003, The Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina
Author: Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press
Bookmark: (Drug Testing)


COLUMBIA - Kenneth Curtis never wanted to become famous and certainly didn't
want to go to jail for being the guy who sells urine so people can beat drug

He just wanted to fight for privacy rights.

But on Tuesday, Curtis will find himself before the state Supreme Court,
asking the justices to throw out his conviction and six-month sentence for
breaking a state law against selling urine.

Prosecutors say the case is simple. Curtis knew the law and broke it when he
sold urine and a kit containing a heat pack, tape and tubing so it appears a
user is giving his own sample. The purchaser two years ago turned out to be
an undercover State Law Enforcement Division agent.

Curtis is not exactly brimming with confidence, going before the same court
that upheld the 1999 law banning the sale of urine, passed after Curtis had
a series of highly publicized arguments with state Sen. David Thomas,
R-Fountain Inn.

"I think we've got a fantastic case," Curtis said by phone last week.
"Whether we can get justice in a highly charged political case is the

Curtis' main argument is the SLED agent testified he never told Curtis he
was going to use the urine to beat a drug test because he feared Curtis
wouldn't sell him the kit.

Curtis' lawyer also plans to argue that the judge in the case shouldn't have
allowed testimony about an Internet pornography site linked to an Internet
site that Curtis' Web site was linked to. His defense also was crippled when
a judge would not force Thomas to testify whether he pressured SLED into
going after him, Curtis said.

State law says it is illegal to sell urine with the intent of defrauding a
drug test. Since the agent didn't say what he planned to use the urine for
and Curtis doesn't market his product as a way to beat a drug test, the
justices should overturn his conviction, Curtis said.

In its brief, the state attorney general's office said Curtis' Web site left
no doubt the intention of his product and his business card includes the
statement "pass any drug test guaranteed."

"The ads and the kits themselves demonstrated that Curtis' business existed
for only one purpose," the state wrote in its brief.

Curtis, 44, acknowledges most workplace urine testing is for drugs and
alcohol. But he said it would be just as easy to begin testing for pregnancy
or traces of drugs used to treat certain illnesses like cancer.

Employers could then use those results to secretly discriminate. "All urine
testing does is invade privacy," Curtis said.

Still, Curtis is nervous about Tuesday's proceedings. He has never been to
jail or been on the wrong side of the law until he picked this fight. He was
the first person convicted under the law and was sentenced to six years, but
that sentence is suspended after he spends six months in prison and
completes five years' probation.

He no longer sells urine at his Internet site. The kits used to cost $69,
but the price has dropped to $49 since users must find their own samples.

The court battles have forced Curtis to move his business to Hendersonville,
N.C., and he concedes "I don't think I'll ever sell urine in South Carolina

But fame and riches weren't what Curtis was looking for.

"This has never been a moneymaking or a business venture," he said. "I never
set out to make a lot of money."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk