Thursday, October 29, 2015
This was a perplexing case. SH, who was coming home from working as a nurse at a hospital, was called in for weaving all over the road. She was pulled over and performed so poorly on the field sobriety tests that it was one of the worst videos we have ever seen. Yet, SH had not consumed any alcohol or illegal drugs. Nevertheless, she was arrested for OWI and blood was drawn, returning a positive test for Lorazepam. With her career as a nurse on the line, she hired Attorney Matthew Murray and he began working on the case immediately. The prosecutor initially refused to do much even though SH was within the therapeutic range for her Lorazepam prescription. This was based in part on how bad the driving was and how poorly SH performed on the field sobriety tests. The prosecutor believed the municipal court judge would not have a problem finding AH guilty. A week before trial, however, the prosecutor came around when it was apparent we were serious about fighting the charge. It was also apparent that we would be appealing the case to a jury trial at the circuit court level if we did not prevail at the municipal court level, something we have done several times against this prosecutor. Given our past successes, the prosecutor thought a guilty verdict at a jury trial would be difficult and agreed to reduce the charge to a Reckless Driving ticket, which consists of only paying a fine. SH was completely spared of an OWI conviction. She also never lost her license and her career was saved. She could not be happier. Neither could we. These prescription drug cases are becoming more frequent and, as in this case, can be completely involuntary. These are the kinds of cases that should not result in convictions and the loss of careers. Unfortunately, prosecutors still pursue convictions and it is an honor and a privilege to help those in this very difficult situation.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
BH was charged with his third offense in Ozaukee County. Ozaukee County is notorious for prosecuting drunk driving offenses to the fullest extent and refused to do much for BH initially. On the other hand, our firm is notorious for defending drunk driving cases to the fullest extent. Something would have to give. In this case, as in any other case we handle, Attorney Matt Murray combed through all the reports and recordings, when a golden nugget revealed itself. Following BH's breath test, the booking video clearly showed BH asking if he could have the alternative blood test free of charge, which is his right under Wisconsin law in such a situation. Yet, the arresting officer never responded to BH's question. She kept side-stepping the request, stating things such as “well, the machine is accurate … this is not a borderline result,” etc. In essence, the officer was trying to discourage BH from seeking an alternative test. Attorney Murray filed a motion to suppress (throw out) BH's breath test results on the grounds that the officer did not give BH the alternative blood test he had asked about, violating his rights in the process. When Attorney Murray initially raised this issue, the officer actually filed a supplemental report denying that BH had ever asked about a blood test, much less that she did anything to discourage such a test, not knowing that she was caught red-handed on the booking video. Finally, on the morning of the motion hearing, the prosecutor learned of the officer's actions as depicted by the video and agreed to dismiss the drunk driving charge. BH could not be happier and neither could we. This was a case in which the officer’s misconduct was exposed, protecting not just BH, but hopefully all citizens from such misconduct in the future.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
JAS was on his way to watch a concert in Appleton when he was stopped for speeding on Highway 41. When asked by the deputy if he had been drinking, JAS admitted to 6 beers. However, the deputy made no other observations that would suggest JAS was impaired. Nevertheless, the deputy subjected JAS to field sobriety tests and, based on what the deputy believed was poor performance, arrested JAS for drunk driving. A subsequent breath test at the sheriff's department revealed an alcohol level of .12. Upset and panicked after what happened, JAS met with Attorney Sarvan Singh and explained that evening’s events. While he admitted to drinking 6 beers, JAS also believed he had done well on the field tests. As Attorney Singh listened to JAS, he realized there may be hope. After delving into the police reports, breath records, and the arrest video, Attorney Singh noted substantial discrepancies between what was written in the deputy's report and what was displayed on video. He also discovered that the breath test machine used on JAS had not been properly maintained in the months leading up to the test. Armed with this knowledge, Attorney Singh proceeded to trial, which was his only option given the prosecutor's unwillingness to plea bargain. During trial, Attorney Singh did significant damage to the deputy's credibility on cross-examination, getting the deputy to concede there were several things in his report that did not correlate with what was shown on video. Furthermore, the County left out certain, vital information regarding the breath-testing device. At the close of the County’s evidence, Attorney Singh argued to the judge that the County failed to prove its case concerning the breath test. The judge agreed and did not allow the County to proceed on the breath test charge. After this ruling, the prosecutor, seeing how poor the deputy’s testimony was, chose to dismiss the remaining drunk driving charge. This meant that both the Operating While Intoxicated charge as well as the Operating with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration charge were completely dismissed. Instead of being saddled with a drunk driving conviction for the rest of his life, JAS walked out of trial with a simple speeding ticket and one very big smile.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Case #1: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .177 blood test) Reduced to Reckless Driving
An attorney's reputation for winning carries a lot of weight in negotiations. In fact, there may be nothing that's more important. The outstanding outcome in this case is a perfect example of that. Facing difficult facts, our client, FF, had to fight his case because his job required that he have no restrictions on his driving privileges. Despite being stopped for two alleged instances of crossing the centerline; an alleged admission of drinking "6 beers and a Bloody Mary"; performing poorly on the roadside tests; and having a blood test result more than twice the legal limit, Dennis Melowski was able to undermine the prosecution's case just enough to negotiate a very favorable resolution. Aware of Dennis' reputation for having an unmatched record of trial successes in drunk driving cases, the prosecutor agreed to drop the drunk driving charges in exchange for a plea to a reduced charge of Reckless Driving, which is a non-alcohol related traffic offense that carries no license loss. In addition, FF was able to completely avoid installing an ignition interlock device, which would have been mandatory under the original charges due to FF's blood test result. Aside from paying a fine, FF suffered no consequences from this incident.
Do yourself a favor, ask other lawyers to whom you might be speaking to share their specific successes in drunk driving cases from the past year. And then ask yourself if you are impressed with the answer. If they even give you one.
Case #2: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .11 breath test result) Reduced to Reckless DrivingOur client, SA, was absolutely committed to not becoming a convicted drunk driver. As a retired professional with an impeccable reputation in his community, SA could not bear the fact of such a stigma. So Dennis Melowski litigated the case for nearly two years. Finally, just a few days prior to SA's jury trial, the prosecutor decided he had had enough. Knowing that Dennis was hell-bent on seeing the case through, the prosecutor agreed to drop the drunk driving charges, along with the speeding citation that was the reason for the initial stop. In exchange, SA plead no contest to a reduced charge of Reckless Driving. He never lost his license for even a single day and was completely spared of the permanent stain of a drunk driving conviction. He couldn't be happier.
You can read SA's 5-star review of Dennis' work on his case on the independent lawyer rating website Avvo by clicking here (the review is titled "DUI Case"): http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/53081-wi-dennis-melowski-1523763/reviews.html
Case #3: OWI-1st/PAC-1st Reduced to Reckless Driving for One of Attorney Matt Murray's Clients
JT would lose his job if his licensed were revoked or suspended. Given what he had to lose, he had to fight his case. Attorney Matt Murray went to work immediately and convinced the judge to stay JT's administrative suspension that occurs prior to any conviction. After that, Matt pushed the case to trial. A few days prior to the trial date, the prosecutor called and came right out with an offer to resolve the case with just a Reckless Driving ticket. Thanks to Matt's hard work, JT never lost his license and saved his job. It's what our firm is known for.