I leaned over to my client near the end of the trial and said that the police report and the officer’s testimony in response to the State’s questions have you a falling down drunk. When I got done the judge agreed there was not enough evidence to arrest him and threw the DUI out. Welcome to the world of the Body Cam. There have been car videos for a while and some agencies removed them- I believe because those that know how to try a case win with them so the Agency removed them. Now the Body Cam is becoming mandatory. My arresting officer was not wearing the cam, but his back-up was. A State Trooper who I have tried cases against before and who was watching texted another trooper who was in another courtroom to come watch me. Neither was disappointed, but it was not a State Trooper who got crushed. He told me he was going to tell his squad about the case tonight.
My client ran a stop sign and admitted to drinking. Could he do the HGN? We will never know because at the end of that part of my cross-examination the officer admitted he did not give it correctly. As to my client’s inability to perform it at all so that the officer had to restart it, that must have happened in a parallel universe, because it did not happen on the street here- the exam was administered incorrectly once. In a pouring rain storm my client performed the walk and turn in his wet bare feet. The stumbling and staggering was not visible. The judge commented how my client stood at parade rest during all instructions, so that his needing to use the car for support when he exited the vehicle and which was before the Body Cam arrived was just not believable. The claim that it took him minutes to turn the car off was also ludicrous.
The officer testified he held his foot up for 4 seconds on the one leg stand. The officer omitted that my client then restarted raising his left leg and held it up for 25 seconds. As the rain drenched him and his foot he decided to switch his balancing leg. He then stood perfectly straight while performing the exercise.
The judge commented that you can drink and drive, you just cannot drink enough that it impairs you or worse. There was nothing in the field tests to indicate impairment and the case was a not guilty at the end of the State’s case.
The trooper from the other courtroom waited for me in the hallway to complement me. The trooper who was always in the courtroom and who I had suppressed a breath test against at our last trial came out as well to complement me. We discussed that when you stop someone and the evidence is not there let the subject go! Writing a report and then testifying to things that are plain wrong or even false just reinforces the problem people perceive with the police.
If this is the way it is going to be then the police better buckle up because these trials are not going to be pleasant.