I am obligated to protect my client's privacy, so I cannot disclose the names of his original attorney or my client. However, I can share the details of the trial. A guilty verdict would have crushed my client's job opportunity in Canada.
Initially Hired a Bad Attorney
The accused was arrested and hastily hired a different attorney without conducting a proper background check. In retrospect, it would have been better to hire a prosecutor. This attorney convinced the accused to plead guilty to a DUI charge based on a breath test result of .115/.114% breath alcohol level at a Pacific Beach checkpoint. However, breath tests can be highly unreliable and at times produce falsely elevated readings above the legal limit of .08. Unfortunately, the attorney failed to inform the accused about this crucial fact. The prior attorney also told him he looked drunk on the video, which was not true and, in fact, proved crucial to the Jury to show he was not impaired.
Furthermore, the attorney persuaded the accused to spend a large sum of money on a toxicologist who miswrote a report arguing his complete guilt. Realizing that a DUI conviction would be detrimental, the accused searched for other attorneys. Through a local general criminal defense attorney who knew me, he contacted me, stating he couldn't afford a DUI conviction and wanted to go to trial. Eventually, the accused retained my services, and we proceeded to trial. After a six-day trial, I successfully obtained a NOT GUILTY verdict.
DUI Checkpoint Arrest
On May 15th, 2021, an officer stopped my client at a DUI checkpoint, conducted a brief horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test in the car, and then conducted a breath test, which read .115/.114. It's worth noting that my client, originally from India and a foreign national, had a fantastic job opportunity in Canada scheduled for November, making it imperative for him to avoid any conviction, even a DRY (Driving Recklessly without alcohol or drugs). During the field sobriety tests, his HGN score was 6/6, one-leg stand score was 2/4, walk and turn score was 4/8, Romberg test showed an estimated 30 seconds in 45 seconds with 2-3 inches of sway and eyelid flutters, alphabet recitation was initially flawed but then repeated without errors, and counting backward from 75 to 55 skipped one number. At first, he claimed to have had nothing to drink but later admitted to consuming "2" beers between 8:20 pm and 10:20 pm. He stated that he had no medical conditions or issues. Consequently, he was arrested and submitted to a breathalyzer test.
A critical issue arose regarding the client's GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease). Unfortunately, I could not obtain any medical records from India, except for a letter from his Indian doctor dated March 2022, stating that he had been suffering from GERD since 2015. His medical condition posed a significant challenge, potentially violating the Sanchez rule. However, an American doctor evaluated him on April 26th, 2022.
Prosecutor Moved to Exclude Crucial Evidence of a Medical Precondition
The prosecutor moved to exclude any evidence related to Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). To overcome this hurdle, I devised a creative strategy for my doctor to testify that my client had GERD on May 15th, 2021, without referring to the Indian doctor's letter. Instead, the doctor relied on reviewing the client's medical records and personal observations on April 26th, 2022, to form the opinion that the client suffered from GERD on the relevant date. The prosecutor argued that this defense was fabricated, and their expert claimed that GERD would not affect breath test results, especially considering the significant time gap between the client's last drink and the breathalyzer test. To support my case, I presented a witness with my client on the night of the incident and testified that he had consumed three pints of beer between 6 pm and 10:30 pm. Additionally, I called upon a medical doctor, whose expertise I believed was crucial in such defenses, and a forensic toxicologist.
The prosecution called their expert witness for rebuttal. Still, her testimony proved weak, leaving me with no questions for her.
After approximately 2.5 hours of deliberation, the jury reached its verdict of NOT GUILTY to all charges. While we often discuss the importance of connecting with the jury, it is difficult to do in the courtroom setting. However, most jurors strongly connected with me rather than the prosecutor. The prosecutor relied heavily on a prepared script, rarely made eye contact with witnesses or the jury, and stood about 15-20 feet away from the jury during his closing statement while reading from a PowerPoint presentation. In contrast, I stood close to the jury throughout my closing argument. Whenever possible during the trial, I positioned myself in the well, approached witnesses, and made regular eye contact with the jury. Additionally, the prosecutor had his supervisor present throughout the trial, which worked to my advantage, as their occasional overlapping contributions made them appear disorganized and unprepared.