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Not Guilty verdict in a DUI case with a car accident

Facts

The client, a Japanese restaurant owner, began drinking after his restaurant closed for the evening late one Saturday night. Driving home, the client entered the highway from an exit ramp (he was driving the wrong way) and quickly got into an accident...with an off-duty police officer! The police officer called for back-up, roughly yanked the client from his car, accused him of being drunk and, when back-up arrived, demanded that the client submit to a breathalyzer test. The client 'refused' and was immediately arrested.

My Approach

The client spoke little English and was clearly confused and frightened when confronted with an angry motorist who turned out to be an off-duty cop. The off-duty cop did not give the client a chance to perform any field sobriety tests and interfered with the responding highway patrol officers and their handling of the matter. Prior to trial, the off-duty cop sued the client civilly for money damages because she suffered 'injuries' as a result of the accident. I decided to try this case before a jury to expose the off-duty cop's financial interest in the outcome of the criminal case. During the trial, the off duty cop came across as a bully and an opportunist. I was able to cross examine her with her civil lawsuit, exposing the fact that she was suing my client for millions of dollars and that a guilty verdict would help her civil case. I was also able to show that she suffered few, if any injuries as a result of the head on collision.

Result

The jury returned a "Not Guilty' verdict. I asked, during my summation, for the jurors to put themselves in the position of my client, and asked them if they would want to be treated the way my client had at the hands of the off-duty cop. While they believed that the client was likely intoxicated, they hated the off-duty cop and were not about to reward her with a guilty verdict.

Final Analysis

At times, the facts look like they are dead against you. But here, the off-duty cop/ witness was her own worst enemy. It took guts for my client to go to trial and challenge her in court. However, we were convinced that the jury would see her for what she was and that we would carry the day. This verdict was a great success for the client.

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