Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 24, 2013: Jury Finds Client NOT GUILTY in OWI-1st/PAC-1st Case

All jury trial victories are satisfying, but the one in County of M. v. IBA was particularly so. Not only was the victory EXTREMELY important to our client's professional career, it occurred in a county that takes a very inflexible approach to negotiating drunk driving cases. In this county, you either plead guilty as charged or fight the case. There is no middle ground. And in this case, the prosecutor thought he had a slam dunk against our client, IBA. IBA had been stopped for going 71mph in a 45mph zone. He admitted to drinking 3 beers and a Jack and Coke and performed poorly on all of the field sobriety tests, at least according to the officer. He also took a roadside breath test that was over the legal limit. Following his arrest, IBA was taken to the hospital for a blood draw, which revealed an alcohol level of .102, also over the legal limit. In short, the prosecutor believed he had plenty of ammunition to convict IBA of drunk driving, an outcome that would devastate IBA professionally. IBA knew he would have to find the very best DUI defense attorney possible to save his career.

The company for whom IBA works, a major international corporation, was also very interested in helping IBA, whom they consider a major asset to their operations. The company turned to their corporate law firm in Washington D.C. for assistance in identifying the top DUI defense attorney in Wisconsin. The law firm provided only one name: Dennis Melowski. From the moment Dennis took over IBA's case, he knew he would have to do everything possible to whittle down the case against IBA, given the number of difficult facts that needed to be overcome. Dennis filed legal challenges to several pieces of evidence in IBA's case, to no avail. The judge denied each of Dennis' challenges, despite their seemingly obvious legal merit. The judge's consistent rulings against Dennis served only to embolden the prosecutor's belief that a drunk driving conviction was inevitable. But as countless prosecutors have learned over the years, few cases are ever as strong as they look, especially when our firm is on the case. On the day of the jury trial, Dennis meticulously dismantled the prosecutor's case. From establishing that many people are stopped for speeding on this same stretch of road (it has the distinct appearance of having a much higher speed limit than it does), to pointing out numerous inconsistencies in the officer's claimed observations, the case against IBA was gradually falling apart right before the jury's eyes. But Dennis did the most significant damage to the blood test evidence. Despite having to contend with one of the most experienced analysts at the lab (a supervisor, in fact), Dennis was able to extract several damaging concessions from this witness. From failed proficiency tests, to mechanical issues and other anomalies that related directly to the analysis of IBA's sample, there was more than enough reason to doubt the result this lab claimed. In the end, it took the jury only 40 minutes to find IBA NOT GUILTY of both the OWI and PAC charges. IBA walked out of the courthouse completely exonerated, with his bright and promising professional future fully intact. Satisfying, indeed.     

Monday, October 21, 2013

October 15, 2013: OWI/PAC-1st (with .145 Blood Test) Reduced to Two Minor Traffic Tickets

This was yet another career-saving outcome for one of our many commercial driving (CDL) clients. For the last 15+ years, our client, DAB,  has held an excellent driving position  with a nationally-known Wisconsin company. DAB's record of service for this company had been impeccable and he was a very valued employee. As is often the case, however, DAB's company had a very strict policy that called for immediate termination upon a DUI conviction. The company's policy was so strict that termination would result even if the DUI would get reduced to Reckless Driving. This meant that from day one, Dennis Melowski knew that DAB's case would have to be pushed as far as necessary to convince the prosecutor to resolve the case with a minor traffic offense to save DAB's job.

At first, it appeared that Dennis was facing a steep uphill battle given the allegations against DAB. The police had accused him of driving his truck off of a straight stretch of road right into a tree, at a very high rate of speed. The resulting collision totaled DAB's truck and injured him to the point that flight for life had to be called. The blood test at the hospital where DAB was flown revealed an alcohol level of .145, a result that far exceeded the legal limit of .08. The prosecutor initially assigned to the case took a very hard-line approach and was unwilling to give DAB any breaks. But this prosecutor did not have the experience necessary to perceive the many weak points in her case that Dennis was able to identify through careful questioning of the arresting officer at DAB's DOT suspension hearing. After a lengthy hearing was held for the judge to address the legal challenges Dennis had raised, it became apparent that the case against DAB was far from air-tight. Once a more experienced prosecutor was assigned to brief the issues Dennis argued to the judge, the County began to realize that Dennis was probably right. Rather than risk losing the entire case, the experienced prosecutor finally agreed to Dennis' demands and a fantastic settlement was negotiated. The original drunk driving charges were dropped. Instead, DAB plead no contest to two minor traffic tickets: Inattentive Driving and Unreasonable and Imprudent Speed. Aside from paying fines, DAB suffered no consequences from this incident. Both his regular and commercial driving privileges were completely spared and he was able to avoid the career-killing stigma of being a convicted drunk driver. And he still has his job.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

September 18, 2013: OWI-6th Offense Conviction Thrown Out By the Court of Appeals

Perhaps no case epitomizes the relentless advocacy we provide for our clients more than this one. This case was already the subject of a post in our Real Results Tracker way back on March 1, 2012, when Dennis Melowski convinced a Washington County judge to sentence his OWI-6th client to county jail with work release instead of prison. This was a phenomenal result in Washington County, since 99% of people who have a 6th offense end up with a prison sentence there. In fact, this same Washington County judge had sentenced someone to prison just a few weeks before, and that was only a 5th offense. But after listening to Dennis' sentencing arguments (which the judge described as "so eloquent") he handed down a sentence to Dennis' client that most lawyers would have taken and run with. And while Dennis was pleased that the judge sided with his sentencing arguments, he also knew that the judge had made a mistake in denying a motion to dismiss Dennis had filed much earlier on in the case. Had the judge made the correct ruling on Dennis' motion, all of the charges against his client would have been thrown out and there would have been no sentence at all...lenient or not. That fact did not sit well with Dennis. He knew he would have a client sitting in jail who shouldn't be there. Instead of being content with a teriffic sentence, Dennis immediately commenced an appeal of the judge's erroneous ruling. After more than 18 months of fighting the case in the appeal system (including the filing of a motion to reconsider with the Court of Appeals itself), Dennis and his client finally obtained justice. On September 18, the Court of Appeals handed down its decision reversing the conviction and throwing out ALL charges against the client. It was a complete and total exoneration and the best possible outcome the client could have hoped for. When we say that we will leave no stone unturned in the relentless pursuit of our clients' goals, it isn't a sales pitch. It's our passion.* To read the Court of Appeals decision in this case click here:  https://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=101931.

*It should definitely be noted that the victory in this case was truly a team effort, as all of the attorneys in this firm (Melowski, Singh and Murray) worked very hard to achieve this exceptional result. Our team approach to such things is one of the great advantages our firm can offer to our clients.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Matt Murray Obtains Another Outstanding Result: OWI - Causing Injury and Felony Hit and Run with a Blood Test of .256 Reduced to OWI-1st with No Jail.

A lot was riding on this case.  Not only would a felony conviction result in SK losing his job, but you can imagine how difficult it would be to find another one.  Not only that, but the State was initially seeking probation and 50 days jail along with other enhanced penalties relating to license revocation, ignition interlock and fines.  By fighting the case right up until the end and taking a hard-lined approach in negotiations, the prosecution eventually agreed to amend the OWI-Causing Injury to a simple OWI-1st without any jail or probation and agreed to place SK on a Deferred Prosecution Agreement on the Felony Hit and Run.  That means that as long as SK follows the agreement for one year, which included alcohol counseling, then that charge would be completely dismissed.  Another job saved.