Harford County Not Guilty

Gary S Bernstein

Harford County has the reputation of being a tough jurisdiction to try a DUI, especially in the District Court.  I have obtained not guilty verdicts in jury trials because I don’t try many of these in the District Court.  The last trial in the District Court took 2 days and resulted in a not guilty because of improper charging that only the trial judge and I understood.  Two weeks ago, I had a case that I did not think I could lose, no matter who the judge.  I sat there a little while and watched most private counsel ask for a jury trial and have their case transferred to the Circuit Court.  My trial was not long on testimony, and at the end very short on argument. I contested the HGN because I was concerned the judge would give it more wait than it was entitled to.  The case involved a roll-over accident, and possible head injury.  I asked the officer if he had seen the Steelers game on tv the previous week.  He had and I asked him if he remembered James Harrison of the Steelers being given the HGN on the sideline by the team doctor after he had a collision and struck his head.  The State objected, the judge laughed and sustained the objection, but I made my point.  With no breath test, no other fields, and an explanation for the accident, the State had nothing.  Not guilty and a trip to the Clerk’s office to file an expungement so my client can join the military.  The next week, I got a letter from one of the attorney’s who juried out, but stayed to watch my trial congratulating me and telling me how much he liked the football example of the HGN.