Friday, May 6, 2016

Add 5 More to the List: 5 of the Firm's Clients Avoid Drunk Driving Convictions in Cases Across the State

Case #1: OWI-1st/Refusal of Chemical Test Reduced to Reckless Driving for                        Attorney Matt Murray's Client**

JF came to our firm with a difficult case. Police were dispatched to two vehicles in a ditch by a caller claiming that both drivers were intoxicated.  When police arrived, JF and the other driver ran off into a forest.  When the other driver was caught, JF walked back to several officers who were not in a good mood.  Without being given an opportunity to explain, JF was grabbed by the arm and hauled back to the road while asking officers not to touch her.  When she pulled away, she was arrested for obstructing an officer, handcuffed and placed in the rear of a squad car.  She was then issued a citation for Operating While Intoxicated and allegedly refused the breath test.  She was then charged with Refusal of a Chemical Test and given another ticket for failing to update the Department of Transportation with her new address. In short, the cops threw the book at her.

The reports of the officers painted a very unflattering picture of JF.  They made it seem like a clear case of a drunk and belligerent driver who got stuck in the ditch.  However, a review of the video revealed a much different story. It was the arresting officer who was disrespectful and instigated the belligerent behavior.  In fact, the video caught the officer making inappropriate and unprofessional statements to JF and about not being a fan of the public in general.  Attorney Murray also requested a copy of the instant messaging logs of the conversations  between the officers, wherein two other officers were commenting about how the arresting officer would never make it through his career without being sued. 

 As a result of Attorney Murray's painstakingly thorough review of all the discovery materials, he was able to unearth several viable legal challenges that would prove crucial to his later negotiations with the prosecutor. In fact, immediately prior to the motion hearing, the prosecutor reluctantly agreed to reduce the OWI charge to a simple Reckless Driving ticket and dismiss the Refusal charge. Not only was this a great result for our client but this case helped expose an officer's very troublesome behavior. And JF couldn't be happier about that.

**This was the 24th client for whom Attorney Murray has obtained a reduction of drunk driving charges to a non-alcohol-related offense since he joined our firm in September of 2013. Be sure to ask ask other lawyers you might be considering if they can demonstrate a similar success rate during the same time span. Don't be surprised when they dodge the question.

Case #2: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .15 breath test result) Reduced to Two Minor                      Traffic Citations for Paramedic Client

This was another case that began with some difficult facts. MK's car had gone off the road and into the snowy median of a busy highway. A deputy county sheriff arrived on scene as MK was attempting to get the vehicle unstuck. After admitting to having several drinks at a local casino, the deputy had MK perform some field sobriety tests, which he allegedly failed. A subsequent breath test revealed an alcohol level of .15, nearly twice the legal limit. Despite the difficult facts, MK knew he had to fight the case because his job as a paramedic required that he maintain fully valid driving privileges at all times. A drunk driving conviction would not only result in the immediate loss of his current job, it would make it nearly impossible to be hired again in the foreseeable future because the stain of a drunk driving conviction is very tough to overcome in the paramedic profession. Based primarily on Dennis Melowski's outstanding online reviews, MK decided that he was the only attorney he would trust for the task of saving his career. And Dennis definitely delivered. After effectively cross-examining the arresting deputy at MK's administrative suspension hearing, Dennis was able to lay the groundwork for a promising legal challenge regarding the admissibility of the breath test result. This legal challenge provided a substantial amount of leverage in his negotiations with the prosecutor, so much so that Dennis was able to convince the prosecutor to drop the original OWI and PAC charges in exchange for no contest pleas to the minor traffic tickets of Driving Too Fast for Conditions and Inattentive Driving. Not only did this outstanding resolution preserve MK's driving privileges, but it avoided a drunk driving conviction altogether. Needless to say, MK was thrilled with this outcome and his career as a paramedic remains fully intact.

Case #3: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .13 breath test result) Reduced to Reckless                           Driving

SM could not fathom being a convicted drunk driver. As a law abiding citizen her whole life, being cuffed and stuffed in the back of a squad car on the night of her arrest was literally the worst experience she had ever gone through. Add to that her realization that the stigma of a drunk driving conviction would follow her forever and it was simply too much for her to bear. She was determined to do something about it, especially because she knew she had been unfairly treated by the police. She wanted to hire the very best attorney in the state to fight her case and Dennis Melowski was her man. This was another case where extremely thorough review of all the discovery materials paid off in a big way. Dennis was able to obtain a copy of the 911 call that had gotten the police involved in SM's case in the first place. After listening to the recording a number of times, Dennis discovered a game changing legal issue that could threaten the prosecutor's entire case. Dennis raised this legal issue in the form of a motion that he filed with the judge. Shortly before the hearing on this motion, Dennis was able to negotiate a fantastic outcome for SM: the drunk driving charges would be dropped in exchange for a no contest plea to a reduced charge of Reckless Driving. Aside from paying a fine, SM suffered no penalties. More importantly, she is NOT a convicted drunk driver. Mission accomplished.

Case #4: CDL Client avoids Drunk Driving Conviction in OWI-1st/Refusal of                       Chemical Test Case

We frequently take over cases from other attorneys after they inform their clients that there is nothing they can do for them and to take whatever crappy offer the prosecutor is willing to make. Interestingly, these other attorneys often hold themselves out as being "tough" or "experienced" in drunk driving defense. More often than not, however, those claims turn out to be little more than sales pitches. MW's case is a perfect example of this. Another attorney had represented MW for a few months when he finally told him there was nothing he could do for him. This attorney advised MW to just plead guilty to the OWI charge, an outcome that would have effectively ended MW's career because it would have resulted in his CDL being disqualified for one full year. MW knew he had to do better than that, so he fired his other attorney and hired Dennis Melowski. It was the best decision MW ever made. After reviewing the case, Dennis found an issue that the other attorney had completely missed. After bringing this issue to the attention of the prosecutor (whom our firm has had much success against over the years), Dennis worked out a fantastic deal for MW that not only avoided a drunk driving conviction, but would not even appear on MW's driver record. This resolution saved MW's CDL and, quite possibly, his entire career. One of the many advantages our firm offers over others is the peace of mind that comes from hiring the firm that has the very best record of success in our field. No sales pitch, just a fact. Ask MW.

Case #5: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .13 breath test result) Reduced to Reckless                           Driving; Another CDL Client's Job Saved

CM is employed as an electrical power lineman for a large power and light company in another state. This is a very lucrative profession, but it also requires fully valid CDL privileges. A drunk driving conviction, even a first offense, results in a mandatory one year disqualification of a CDL. Moreover, even after the year-long disqualification is over, companies are often reluctant to hire someone with a drunk driving conviction on their record, a conviction that will remain there for life. So when CM was picked up for drunk driving when he was back visiting his hometown, he knew it was something he would have to fight in order to save his career. After a LOT of research, CM decided to hire Dennis Melowski. Much like MW in our last post, this was the best decision CM could have made. Despite some very difficult facts, Dennis was able to find just enough in the case to convince the prosecutor to drop the original OWI and PAC charges in exchange for a no contest plea to a Reckless Driving ticket. Due to the deal Dennis worked out, CM never lost his license for a single day and his CDL was completely spared. And he is still a power lineman. Another very real result. 


Friday, April 1, 2016

Another Win at Trial: Jury Finds Client Not Guilty in OWI-1st/PAC-1st Case with .17 Blood Test Result

Our client, SS,  is in the early stages of a lucrative career as an electrical power lineman. Unfortunately, when SS was arrested for his first drunk driving offense, that career was in serious jeopardy due to the mandatory  one-year CDL  disqualification SS was facing if he was convicted. A valid CDL is a prerequisite in this line of work. Knowing the stakes, SS scoured the Internet to find the best possible attorney to save his professional future. After much research, and after reading the countless stellar reviews by former clients in similar situations, SS decided Dennis Melowski  was the only lawyer for the job.

Given the difficult facts, Dennis figured there was very good chance SS's case was headed for trial. SS had been stopped after an officer allegedly witnessed him go right through a stop sign, an act that was supposedly captured on the officer's squad video. Moreover, SS allegedly "stumbled" after exiting his truck and performed poorly on the field sobriety tests. On top of all that, the post-arrest blood draw revealed an alcohol concentration of .17, a result that is more than twice the legal limit. In light of all that, the prosecutor was not willing to budge during negotiations and was hell-bent on securing a drunk driving conviction. But as countless prosecutors have learned over the years when dealing with our firm, not all cases are as strong as they appear. And SS's case is a perfect example. Despite the fact that the prosecutor believed he had a slam-dunk conviction on his hands, Dennis was able to successfully undermine nearly every aspect of the case against SS and he was able to use the officer's own squad video to do it. The alleged stop sign violation? Dennis was able to show the jury that there was virtually no chance the officer could tell whether SS had stopped due to an adjacent building obscuring the officer's view from the angle at which his squad was parked, a fact SS had maintained from the beginning. In addition, Dennis got the officer to admit that he was chit-chatting with another officer parked right next to him at the time he was supposedly paying attention to the intersection he couldn't see. And that stumble by SS when he got out of his truck? The video showed it never happened. SS also performed far better on the field sobriety tests than the officer claimed in his report. By the time Dennis was done cross-examining the officer there was not much left of his credibility.

But what about the .17 blood test result? Fortunately for SS, the analyst from the lab that tested his sample did not fare much better than the officer when cross-examined by Dennis. Dennis was able to expose numerous problems with the lab's performance history and the particular machine that was used to test SS's sample. From failed proficiency tests, shoddy lab work and poorly performing equipment, no reasonable person would have heard what this witness had to say and trusted this lab's work. And the jury certainly didn't. In the end, it took the jury less than one hour to find SS NOT GUILTY of all charges, even the phony stop sign violation. Needless to say, SS was overjoyed with his complete exoneration. As for saving SS's career? Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Two Trials and Two Not Guilty Verdicts for Attorney Matt Murray's Clients

Case #1: Washington County Jury Finds Client Not Guilty in OWI-2nd Case with .20 Blood Test Result

Our client, CK, allegedly stumbled out of a bar, drove over some traffic cones and traveled home. Witnesses called 911 and, within 10 minutes, police were knocking on CK's front door. Although CK answered the door, she was immediately arrested for Obstructing an Officer when she attempted to close the door and return inside. She was then subjected to a battery of field sobriety tests and cited for OWI, her second offense. A subsequent blood draw revealed an alleged alcohol concentration of .20. This fact scenario left open the defense that CK had consumed alcohol when she arrived home but prior to being arrested for OWI. However, proving such a defense would be no easy feat given the claims of the witnesses and the very high blood alcohol level.  

Given the fact that the prosecutor was seeking some very stiff penalties, CK and Attorney Murray decided to take the case to a jury trial. Despite the very difficult facts, Attorney Murray was able to capitalize on various mistakes made by the prosecutor during the trial, including the failure to offer any video evidence and the failure to call a key witness. Throughout the trial, Attorney Murray methodically gathered the evidence to use in his closing argument to the jury. In the end, the jury found CK NOT GUILTY of all charges. It was the best possible outcome CK could have hoped for. And she just may be the happiest client we've ever had.

Case #2: Judge Finds Client Not Guilty in OWI-1st Case with .12 Blood Test Result

Attorney Matt Murray's client, KD, was struck by another vehicle while riding his motorcycle. He sustained very serious injuries and was taken to the hospital. An officer came to the hospital to investigate the crash and smelled alcohol coming from KD. When asked, KD admitted to having 6 drinks over a several hour period, which prompted the officer to seek a blood draw. The result ended up being .12. While it was ultimately established that the accident was not KD's fault, Attorney Murray was still stuck with having to explain the .12 blood test result. This is where hiring a firm like Melowski & Associates really pays off. Ask any attorney if there is a viable blood-alcohol curve defense with a .12 test result and the blood draw occurring nearly 3 hours after the time of driving and they will tell you that such a defense would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. And for the vast majority of attorneys, that's true. However, Attorney Murray knew just the right expert witness to call to raise such a defense.  Attorney Murray also shrewdly convinced the prosecutor not to call their own expert at trial. And perhaps most importantly, Attorney Murray waived a jury and tried the case to the assigned judge (a rare move for our firm), knowing that this particular judge held our firm in high regard based on our experience with him in various other cases. In the end, the judge simply could not find that there was sufficient evidence of KD's guilt and he was found NOT GUILTY. KD was so happy that he couldn't help but give Attorney Murray a huge hug in the hallway after the judge announced his verdict. A fantastic outcome that was the byproduct of superior lawyering every step of the way.

Friday, February 26, 2016

3 More Clients Avoid DUI Convictions to Close Out February

Case #1: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .13 Breath Test Result) Reduced to Two Minor Traffic Tickets in Milwaukee County

As a professional in the insurance industry himself, DH knew better than anyone how catastrophic a drunk driving conviction can be. From years of absurdly high insurance rates to irreparable harm to a professional reputation, DH knew he wanted to avoid a conviction at all costs. After very thorough research, DH decided Dennis Melowski was the only attorney for the job. And Dennis definitely delivered. The outstanding result in DH's case was the product of a lot of hard work and perseverance. Through contested municipal court proceedings, to an appeal to circuit court, Dennis Melowski relentlessly attacked the charges against DH at every turn. Based on testimony from the arresting officer that Dennis was able to nail down at the municipal court level, a motion challenging the probable cause to arrest DH was filed in circuit court. At the hearing on this motion, Dennis was able to completely destroy the credibility of the officer. Time after time the officer's testimony contradicted what he had testified to in municipal court, and each time Dennis called him out on it. When he got off the witness stand, the officer knew how badly Dennis had damaged him, so much so that the officer went up to the prosecutor immediately after the hearing to tell him he did not want to go through that again in front of a jury. Knowing how poorly the officer had testified, the prosecutor agreed to a very favorable resolution of DH's case. Despite a .13 breath test result, the original OWI and PAC charges were dropped in exchange for no contest pleas to the minor traffic offenses of Inattentive Driving and Failure to Yield. DH completely avoided an alcohol-related conviction and suffered no loss of license. And couldn't be happier.

Case #2: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .11 Blood Test Result) Reduced to Reckless Driving

Our client, QW, had to avoid a drunk driving conviction in this case. His career depended on it. As a senior sales consultant, QW was required to cover an extensive geographic area and he would never be able to meet his job requirements with a revoked driver's license. Moreover, his company had a very strict personal conduct policy regarding employees who received DUI convictions. In short, QW's future with his company was in grave doubt. Fortunately, QW was referred to Dennis Melowski by an area businessman whose friends and acquaintances Dennis has been able to help out on several occasions. And QW's name can now be added to that list. After several rounds of negotiations with the prosecutor, Dennis was able to work out a very favorable resolution. The original OWI and PAC charges were dropped. In exchange, QW plead no contest to a reduced charge of Reckless Driving. Aside from paying a fine, he suffered no consequences. He never lost his license for a single day and, most importantly, he avoided the reputation-killing stigma of being a convicted drunk driver. 

Case #3: OWI-1st/Refusal of Chemical Test Reduced to Reckless Driving for Medical Professional Client

In BA's particular field in the medical profession, OWI convictions absolutely must be avoided. Not only would such a conviction immediately jeopardize his present position, it would haunt him professionally for years. Despite having some very difficult facts to overcome, Dennis Melowski was able to negotiate a result that completely avoided an alcohol-related conviction. Dennis was able to successfully argue that because English was a second language for BA, he was not able to fully understand the ramifications of his decision to refuse a breath test following his arrest and the officers did not take reasonable steps to make sure that he did. This argument provided Dennis just enough leverage in negotiations to convince the prosecutor to resolve the case with a reduced charge of Reckless Driving. No drunk driving conviction and a fully-preserved reputation. And one very satisfied client.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Picking Up Right Where We Left Off: 2 More Clients Avoid Drunk Driving Convictions to Start the Year

Case #1: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .126 blood test result) Reduced to Two Minor Traffic Tickets

KG's case involved a serious motorcycle accident and a .126 blood alcohol level. Although the case looked bleak initially, Dennis Melowski was able to leverage some legal issues he uncovered in the case into a fantastic result. The timing of the blood draw relative to the accident, combined with a significant procedural flaw by the police in securing "consent" to the blood test, provided Dennis with enough ammunition to convince the prosecutor to drop the original drunk driving charges. In exchange, KG entered no contest pleas to the minor traffic offenses of Inattentive Driving and Failure to Control Vehicle. Aside from paying fines, KG suffered no consequences from her arrest. She never lost her license for a single day and was able to completely avoid an alcohol-related conviction. She is one VERY happy client.

Case #2: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .082 blood test result) Reduced to Two Minor Traffic Tickets

The outstanding outcome in WL's** case was no easy feat. WL had been arrested in a county notorious for not plea bargaining drunk driving charges. And for nearly two years, the prosecutor in WL's case refused to budge. A good portion of this time was spent litigating whether WL would be entitled to a jury trial. You see, in a first offense case, a jury trial has to be demanded (and paid for) within a short time of the first court appearance. Here, WL did not hire Dennis Melowski until that time had already passed. Dennis knew that WL had a very good set of facts for a jury, but his prospects of winning before a judge would be slim, as the vast majority of judges end up siding with the police in these cases. But Dennis refused to give up fighting for WL's right to a trial by jury... and left no stone unturned in the process. Dennis obtained a transcript of WL's first court appearance and discovered that the judge did not properly advise WL of the deadline for requesting a jury trial. Dennis filed a motion to allow a jury trial because of this defect. The prosecutor objected and filed his own motion in opposition. After multiple hearings, the judge agreed with Dennis. WL was permitted to have a jury trial. But the prosecutor still would not budge. During the next 6 months the case was prepared by both sides for trial. Finally, just two days before the trial was supposed to begin, Dennis was able to convince the prosecutor that a conviction at trial on the drunk driving charges was in serious doubt. Rather than risk losing at trial to Dennis, the prosecutor agreed to a very favorable deal. The drunk driving charges were dropped. In exchange, WL agreed to plead no contest to the minor traffic offenses of Inattentive Driving and Driving Too Fast for Conditions. Besides fines, WL suffered no other penalties. Because he avoided a drunk driving conviction, WL's job was saved. Needless to say, WL could not be happier.

**WL was actually referred to Dennis by a prosecutor in another DA's office  

Thursday, December 17, 2015

OWI-1st/Refusal of Chemical Test Reduced to Reckless Driving for Attorney Matt Murray's Client

LG was in a very difficult spot when he picked up his first-ever OWI charge. He was so worried about the certain job-loss it would cause that he didn't know what to do when the officer asked him to submit to a blood test. He thought the safest thing to do would be to refuse the test, not knowing that such a refusal would lead to a separate charge with penalties that are worse than the OWI itself. To save his job, LG would now have to avoid both the OWI and Refusal charges. Fortunately, LG's boss is a former client of our firm and he told LG to give us a call right away. As the attorney responsible for LG's case, Attorney Matt Murray knew he would have to get creative. After pouring over every detail, Matt was able to find just enough ammunition to craft a defense. Although initially reluctant to plea bargain, the prosecutor ultimately relented as Matt pushed the case closer to trial. Matt was able to convince the prosecutor to drop the OWI and Refusal charges in exchange for a no contest plea to the non-alcohol-related traffic offense of Reckless Driving. On top of that, the prosecutor also agreed to dismiss two additional citations LG had been issued for Operating Left of Center and Failure to Dim Headlamps. Aside from paying a fine for the Reckless Driving ticket, LG suffered no consequences. He avoided any loss of license and was completely spared of a drunk driving conviction. Another fantastic result and another job saved.  

Sunday, December 6, 2015

December 3, 2015: Jury Finds Client NOT GUILTY in OWI-1st/PAC-1st Case with .22 Blood Test Result

LT's job was literally on the line in this case. Had the jury found him guilty, he would have been fired the very next day. As the safety director for a large petroleum hauling company, his job required a valid CDL. Despite an impeccable employment record, and despite being a valued employee for more than 10 years,  his company's policy was set in stone. A DUI conviction, with its mandatory disqualification of CDL privileges, meant immediate termination. No exceptions. With the stakes that high, Dennis Melowski pulled out all the stops at LT's jury trial. Through a relentless cross-examination of the arresting officer, Dennis exposed so many mistakes and inconsistencies that his credibility was completely destroyed, so much so that the jury also found LT not guilty of the bogus Unsafe Lane Deviation charge the cop issued to LT. And the chemist from the state lab who tested LT's blood sample fared no better. Although this witness testified that LT's test result was nearly three times the legal limit, the jury completely disregarded this evidence after Dennis exposed countless failures and highly questionable procedures followed by the lab in this case. Dennis even got the chemist to admit that he had no explanation for an entry in the lab's own maintenance log documenting a mistake another chemist had made, an entry the chemist described as "bizarre." In the end, the jury had absolutely no faith in the case against LT and he was found not guilty of all charges. His job was saved. And he is one VERY happy man.