Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Attorney Murray Obtains Outstanding Results in Seven First Offense Cases

Case # 1: OWI/PAC-First Offense with Accident Amended to Reckless Driving

DM was driving home when he turned left at an intersection and struck the side of an oncoming vehicle. When police arrived, the officer alleged that he noticed DM initially pulled out a credit card instead of his driver's license, had slow and slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, a moderate odor of intoxicants coming from his breath and that DM was slow to respond to questions. DM allegedly failed the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus and One Leg Stand field sobriety tests, but passed the Walk and Turn test. However, one of the more difficult facts was that DM initially told the officer that he had two beers over two hours. Later, he changed his story and stated that he had been drinking for about three and a half hours and that he had three mixed drinks during this time. The Intoximeter EC/IR II test result of .09 g/210L did not help either.

By focusing on the one passed field sobriety test, that DM had no balance issues other than during the One Leg Stand test, that the weather was bitter cold, that DM was cooperative, etc., and by providing an expert report demonstrating that at the time of driving that DM would have actually been below the legal limit of .08, Attorney Murray was ultimately able to convince the prosecutor to amend the charge. DM was very pleased but it did not stop there.

The Reckless Driving ticket carried six demerit points, which would have put DM into a demerit points suspension with the Department of Transportation. Knowing this, Attorney Murray was able to go back and reopen DM's most recent speeding ticket with a different court and had it amended down, saving DM's license. This kind of dedication is what you can expect from our firm.

Case # 2: OWI-First Offense Amended to Reckless Driving Ticket

Officers were dispatched to a residence after the caller stated that BB showed up in his truck, had been drinking and would not leave. The caller said that BB had called and texted so frequently that day that she blocked him and that his snapchats showed him holding red solo cups with bottles of alcohol in his possession and some of the messages stated that he was going to drink the night away.

Police stopped BB's vehicle down the road a ways and BB denied that he had drank anything in the last six hours. THe officer alleged that he noticed the moderate odor of alcohol and red, bloodshot and glossy eyes, as well as an unusually relaxed demeanor of BB. BB then allegedly failed the field sobriety test and a preliminary breath test returned a result of .099. However, the Intoximeter EC/IR II test result came back at .06 g/210L.

Unfortunately, this was the reverse of DM's case above because the prosecutor's argument was that BB would have been above the legal limit at the time of driving as confirmed by the preliminary breath test and his statement that he had not consumed any alcohol in six hours. Regardless, rather than slugging the case out in court with Attorney Murray, the prosecutor agreed to amend the OWI to a ticket for Reckless Driving. Another happy client.

Case # 3: OWI-First Offense Completely Dismissed

This was an easier case. The Intoximeter EC/IR II result was .05 g/210L. While there were some difficult facts that led the arresting officer to issue the OWI charge in the first place, rather than accepting some type of amended charge, Attorney Murray was able to have the charge completely dismissed. SS could not have received a better result. 

Case # 4: OWI/PAC-First Offense with .142 Blood Test Amended to Inattentive Drivng for Client with Commercial Driver's License

This was not an easy case. JT left a festival in his pickup truck and an officer noticed he did not stop at the red flashing lights at an intersection. The officer went to turn around and lost sight of the vehicle momentarily, but then heard a loud crash. When the officer turned around a corner, he saw a tree had been badly damaged and saw JT's truck continuing down the road with the bumper dragging along the ground. JT failed the field sobriety tests. The preliminary breath test result came back at .133 and the evidentiary blood draw came back at .142. 

After approximately seven months of fighting the charges and shortly before the trial, it was discovered that the arresting officer had moved to a different state. While the prosecutor could have issued a subpoena to bring the arresting officer back to court for the trial, the case ultimately settled with the OWI charge being amended to Inattentive Driving and the remaining charges of Operating a Motor Vehicle with a Prohibited Alcohol Concentration-First Offense and Hit and Run were dismissed. JT was thrilled and hopefully learned a valuable lesson.

Case # 5: OWI/PAC-First Offense with Accident and .248 Blood Test Amended to Ordinance That Does Not Show-up on Driving Record

This was also a difficult case. A sheriff's deputy came upon DS' vehicle in the ditch at the intersection of two county highways. DS told the deputy that he swerved to miss another vehicle and DS was visibly impaired on the squad video in addition to the many observations of the deputies. Moreover, DS refused to do the field sobriety tests, instead telling the officers to just put the handcuffs on him. DS also made some statements to the effect that he was coming from a bar down the road. After arresting DS, he was taken for a blood test which returned a result of .248.

Despite all of this evidence, Attorney Murray seized upon the one thing that was never investigated: the time of driving. While DS made various statements that made it seem like he had just come from the bar, the timing of everything was never discussed and after filing motions and pushing the issue, the prosecutor agreed to amend the charge to "Disorderly Conduct with a Motor Vehicle," which is a local ordinance that does not appear on a person's driving record. DS could not be happier. 

Case # 6: OWI/PAC-First Offense Amended to Reckless Driving Ticket

CW was pulled over for traveling 55 MPH in a 25 MPH zone and weaving in and out of the bike lane. Upon approaching the vehicle, the officer alleged CW had difficulty producing his driver's license and that he could not remember his address. Slurred speech was also alleged. CW also admitted to drinking three "Laughing Clown" 9.8% beers. Aside from the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus field sobriety test, CW did surprisingly well on the balancing field sobriety test, but did not do well on the alphabet test. The breath test could not be conducted because CW had GERD, so a blood draw was conducted hours after the arrest returning a result of .108. 

Attorney Murray went to work. Viewing of the scene was very important in this case as the bike lane had been faded to the point that you could not see it at night, even with headlights on. Also, a simple review of the squad video showed that the officer was exaggerating the speed, although CW was probably speeding. Moreover, CW had a documented speech impediment and was dyslexic, providing an explanation for the slurred speech and the failed alphabet test. The biggest hurdle seemed to be the high blood test result and the fact that it was hours after the stop, making it difficult to argue that CW was below the legal limit at the time of driving. However, due to the higher alcohol percentage beer that CW was drinking, it was theoretically possible that he was below .08. Rather than go to trial, the prosecutor ultimately agreed to amend the charge to a Reckless Driving ticket. 

Case # 7: OWI/PAC-First Offense Amended to Absolute Sobriety Violation and Failure to Keep Vehicle Under Control tickets

KE, who was under the age of 21 at the time, put his truck in the ditch when he swerved to miss a deer. He allegedly failed the field sobriety tests when officers arrived and provided a preliminary breath test of .101. The Intoximeter EC/IR II test came back at .09 g/210L.

The prosecutor was very stubborn in this case and we fought the charges for literally years. Never backing down, after several rounds of pretrial motions, the prosecutor finally agreed to come off the OWI/PAC charges. A very nice result for a very nice young man. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Major Court of Appeals Victory for Dennis Melowski in an OWI-Homicide Case

Shortly before his jury trial on several very serious traffic-related homicide charges, AG was denied his right to present a defense by a Walworth County trial court judge. AG filed an emergency petition to the court of appeals. On the Friday afternoon before his Monday jury trial, the court of appeals agreed to review the trial judge's decision, which Dennis Melowski believed was plainly erroneous. After litigating the matter for nearly 8 months in the court of appeals, the court of appeals issued its decision  summarily reversing the trial judge's ruling. Summary reversals do not happen often in the court of appeals, typically only in situations where the trial judge was very obviously wrong. That was certainly the case here, as the the court of appeals decision was highly critical of the judge's ruling and his reasoning.

A detailed press account of the appeal can be read here:

The court of appeals decision can be read here:

As we have said many times before, there is absolutely no substitute for superior lawyering.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Another Motion Hearing Victory for Dennis Melowski Leads to Complete Dismissal of OWI-3rd/PAC-3rd Case (with .21 Breath Test Result)

AW was called in by an anonymous caller who reported that she was "stumbling" as she got into her car and left a club she had been at. Officers in neighboring jurisdictions were told to be on the lookout for a vehicle matching the description the caller provided, including all but one digit of a license plate number. After observing what he believed was the suspected vehicle, an officer began following it. Since this was an "anonymous call," this officer knew that he would have to make independent observations of suspicious or unsafe driving to justify a traffic stop. After following AW's vehicle for several blocks, he noted that she was traveling approximately 20 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. Despite observing no other problems with her driving, the officer decided to stop AW for the traffic offense of Obstructing Traffic By Slow Speed. After further roadside investigation, AW was arrested for drunk driving, unfortunately for the third time. A breath test at the police department revealed an alcohol level of .21.

 Dennis Melowski knew that AW had a very good issue in her case the first time he spoke to her. Why? Because he knew that she had likely not committed the traffic violation for which she was stopped. You see, if an officer stops you for an improper or insufficient reason, it doesn't matter what he discovers about you after the fact. If the initial traffic stop is unlawful, all of the evidence the officer gathers after that gets thrown out, including the results of any field sobriety tests or the results of any breath or blood tests. In short, if Dennis could convince the judge that AW should not have been stopped in the first place, her case would end up being dismissed for lack of evidence.

So Dennis carefully crafted his strategy to execute this plan. It started with questioning the officer at AW's DOT suspension hearing, during which Dennis got the officer to admit that despite traveling at a speed 10 MPH below the posted limit, AW's slow speed did not actually obstruct traffic because there was no other traffic present! Simply driving below the speed limit, even significantly so, is not in and of itself a traffic violation. Other traffic actually has to be obstructed by this slow speed for the offense to be committed. Moreover, AW was traveling on a four-lane road, further decreasing the risk of obstructing other vehicles. In light of the officer's testimony at the suspension hearing, Dennis filed a motion to suppress with the judge and a hearing was held. It was at this hearing that Dennis really did his damage to the State's case because the officer took the stand and severely contradicted his previous testimony at the DOT hearing, something that does not sit well with Dennis. Dennis pointed out each and every inconsistency in the officer's concocted testimony, so much so that the officer left the stand with zero credibility. More importantly, the judge saw through the officer's dubious testimony and quickly ruled in his favor. Based on the judge's ruling, ALL of the State's evidence against AW was thrown out and ALL charges against her were dismissed. It was the best possible result for AW and she is one EXTREMELY happy client.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Back to Back Motion Hearing Victories for Dennis Melowski Result in Complete Dismissal of Two OWI-2nd Cases

Case #1: Complete Dismissal of OWI-2nd/PAC-2nd (with .142 Blood Test Result)

Dennis Melowski knew something wasn't right with this case the first time he read the police report. The officer who arrested SH had seen very few signs of impairment prior to having SH submit to a roadside preliminary breath test (PBT), the result of which was the only thing that led to SH being arrested for drunk driving, unfortunately for the second time. In Wisconsin, the law requires an officer to have "probable cause to believe" a person is impaired by alcohol in order to justify administering a PBT. Dennis believed that the officer simply didn't have grounds to give SH the PBT, given how well he had performed on the field sobriety tests. Dennis filed a motion with the judge asking for the PBT to be thrown out, along with all the other evidence the officer gathered after the PBT was illegally administered to his client, including the .142 blood test result. After a contested hearing in which Dennis had an opportunity to cross-examine the officer and expose all of the weaknesses of his investigation, the judge agreed with Dennis and threw out all of the evidence against SH. Given the judge's ruling, the district attorney's office had no choice but to dismiss all charges against SH. It was the best result he could have possibly hoped for.

Case #2: Complete Dismissal of OWI-2nd/PAC-2nd (with .154 Blood Test Result)

Dennis' victory at this particular motion hearing was extremely satisfying because it was the result of perhaps his most devastatingly effective cross-examination of an officer in his career. Dennis had filed a motion challenging the initial stop of DC's vehicle, along with a motion challenging the summoning of a K-9 unit to search DC's car for drugs. When Dennis questioned the arresting officer at the motion hearing, he was able to get him to admit to several untruths during his testimony. The officer became so concerned that Dennis would expose other areas of his very questionable testimony that he simply began to agree with everything Dennis needed to ensure his motions would be granted, which the judge did in very short order. It was one of the most surreal experiences of Dennis' career. After the judge granted Dennis' motions, the prosecutor immediately dismissed all charges against DC. He walked out of the courtroom completely exonerated! 

By the way, as soon as we receive the transcript of Dennis' cross-examination from this hearing, we will be posting it right here, so be sure to check back in a few weeks. You won't believe what you will read. But you will see why this firm's courtroom excellence is without peer.   

Thursday, March 1, 2018

12 More Clients Avoid Drunk Driving Convictions in Counties Around the State

When we say we handle cases all over Wisconsin, we mean it. In just the past few months, our statewide reputation for excellence has allowed our clients to avoid drunk driving convictions in all of the following counties : Winnebago, Waukesha, Eau Claire, Green Lake, Outagamie, Sheboygan, Racine and Vilas. Here are their outstanding results:

Case #1: Jury Finds Client NOT GUILTY in OWI-1st/PAC-1st Case

Our client was pulled over for for going 88 MPH in a 70 MPH zone; failed the FST's (at least according to the officer); and had a .09 blood test result. Through a withering cross-examination of the arresting officer, and an even more damaging cross-examination of the lab analyst (a supervisor, no less), Dennis damaged the credibility of the State's case so significantly that the jury had little difficulty returning NOT GUILTY verdicts for his client.

Case #2: OWI-3rd/PAC-3rd/Refusal of Chemical Test Reduced to Reckless Driving

This case is the perfect example of the lengths to which our firm will go to accomplish our clients' goals. SK came to us charged with her third drunk driving offense. By closely examining the court records from her second offense years earlier, Dennis found a way to successfully attack that prior conviction. By doing that, SK's first offense became too old to count, which meant Dennis was able to have the OWI-3rd reduced to just an OWI-1st. While most attorneys would be thrilled with such an outcome, Dennis kept fighting the case because he knew his client did not want to be convicted of drunk driving. Through months of continued litigation and negotiation, Dennis was able to get the prosecutor to reduce the OWI to a simple Reckless Driving ticket and SK avoided a drunk driving conviction altogether. If you are speaking with other attorneys about representation for your drunk driving case, please ask them to tell you about the last time they were able to achieve a result like this. And make them be specific.

Case #3: ALL Charges Dismissed in OWI-1st/RCS-1st/Possession of THC Case

KJ was facing several serious drug-related driving charges, as well as criminal charges for possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. After going through the squad video evidence with a fine-tooth comb, Dennis Melowski discovered that KJ was subjected to an unconstitutional detention while a K-9 unit was summoned to the scene to search his vehicle. In short, at the time the K-9 unit was called, the officer who stopped KJ did not have probable cause to detain him for anything. Dennis filed a motion with the judge arguing this very point. After a contested hearing in which all of the officers involved testified, Dennis was able to convince the judge that he was right. The judge granted Dennis' motion and all of the evidence against KJ was thrown out. As a result, all of the charges were dismissed as if they never happened in the first place.

Case #4: Complete Dismissal of OWI-3rd/PAC-3rd Charges for CDL Client

This is another fantastic result for one of Dennis' many CDL clients. CG was charged with his third OWI. As he does in every case like this, Dennis closely examined whether there was any way to challenge one of CG's prior OWI convictions, which would substantially reduce the penalties CG was exposed to. After much leg work, Dennis found a significant problem with CG's second conviction from out of state. Dennis filed the appropriate motion and a hearing was held where the judge agreed with Dennis that CG's second offense should not be counted. This resulted in CG's first offense being too old to count. Thanks to Dennis' hard work, CG now found himself facing only an OWI-1st instead of an OWI-3rd. But because CG was a CDL holder, he had to avoid a drunk driving conviction altogether, even if it was just a first offense. After months of continued litigation, the judge dismissed the OWI-1st charges as well. NO DRUNK DRIVING CONVICTION. CG's job was saved and he is one of the most grateful clients we have ever had.

Case #5: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .142 Blood Test Result) Reduced to Two Minor Traffic Tickets for CDL Client

CL was referred to Dennis Melowski by a former sheriff's deputy Dennis had a jury trial with years ago. Cops have a very good sense for who the very best defense attorneys are because they have an opportunity to see their skill level first-hand in court. This particular retired deputy has referred several clients to Dennis over the years and Dennis has never disappointed. And CL's case was no different. Despite some very difficult facts, including a serious accident and a blood test well above the legal limit, Dennis was able to expose enough problems in the case to convince the District Attorney that a conviction on the original charges was in jeopardy. Dennis was able to negotiate a fantastic resolution: the OWI and PAC charges were dropped in exchange for CL pleading no contest to the minor traffic offenses of Inattentive Driving and Deviation from Designated Lane. CL never lost his license for even a single day and his CDL remained fully intact. He was VERY happy with this result.

Case #6: OWI-1st/Refusal of Chemical Test Reduced to Inattentive Driving for CDL Client

Yes, ANOTHER of our CDL clients avoided a drunk driving conviction in this case. BF had put his truck in the ditch on a snowy night. He walked to a nearby home for assistance and the police were promptly notified by the homeowner. BF failed the field sobriety tests and (allegedly) refused to submit to a breath test. Admittedly, not the greatest hand to be dealt in a drunk driving case. But after much negotiation with a prosecutor against whom Dennis has had much success over the years, an outstanding resolution was reached. The OWI and Refusal charges were dropped in exchange for a no contest plea to Inattentive Driving, a minor traffic offense. Another commercial driver's career saved.

Case #7: Complete Dismissal Of Refusal Charge in OWI-3rd Case

This is a follow-up to a previous entry on our Real Results Tracker from June of 2017. Last June, Dennis took CR's case to a jury trial in Waukesha County and won not guilty verdicts for charges of OWI-3rd/PAC-3rd and Operating with Restricted controlled Substance-3rd. It was a complete exoneration by the jury for CR. But there was still a charge of Refusal of Chemical Test that had to be decided by the judge. After extensive briefing, the judge ruled in CR's favor and dismissed the Refusal charge, the last charge remaining. Another complete exoneration for CR, who walked out of this case with literally no conviction for anything. It was a complete and utter victory across the board. As we have said repeatedly, if you are considering another firm for representation in your drunk driving case, ask them the last time they took a case like this to trial and won it. And also won the Refusal hearing. Make them be specific. Their dancing around the question will tell you all you need to know.

Case #8: OWI-1st/Refusal of Chemical Test Reduced to Reckless Driving

This was a case that Dennis was able to resolve so successfully because of the case he won this past summer in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. By crafting a creative legal argument based largely on that decision and extending it to the facts of BE's case, Dennis convinced the prosecutor that he would not be able to prevail at a refusal hearing, which would in turn significantly jeopardize his chances for conviction on the OWI charge as well. Rather than risk a complete loss, the prosecutor agreed to drop the OWI and Refusal charges in exchange for a no contest plea to Reckless Driving. BE paid a fine, but otherwise suffered no consequences. Most importantly, he avoided becoming a convicted drunk driver.

Case #9: OWI-1st/Refusal of Chemical Test Reduced to Operating Left of Center

Very few attorneys know the intricacies of Wisconsin's drunk driving laws as well as ours. Even fewer have the litigation skill necessary to leverage that knowledge into truly outstanding results for their clients. GH's case is a great example of the benefits of hiring a law firm that truly is at the very top of its field. GH came to Dennis with very difficult facts, especially as they related to his refusal of chemical test charge. However, by exploiting a mistake the officer made in the preparation and service of an important document, Dennis created a crack in the case that soon became a giant hole. Dennis was able to use this to negotiate a dismissal of the OWI and Refusal Charges in exchange for a no contest plea to Operating Left of Center, a very minor traffic offense. GH could not possibly be happier with this outcome.

Case #10: OWI-1st/PAC-1st (with .17 Breath Test Result) Reduced to Two Minor Traffic Offenses for Commercial Truck Driver

Persistence pays off. That is definitely the moral of CK's case. After litigating this case for more than 18 months, Dennis finally convinced the prosecutor to give his client, an over-the-road truck driver for a major trucking outfit, the deal of a lifetime. Although CK had a breath test result that was more than two times the legal limit, Dennis had significantly undermined the credibility of the arresting officer at a contested municipal court trial. After Dennis had the case transferred to circuit court, the prosecutor realized that the damage Dennis had done to the officer in municipal court was a serious threat to his case. As a result, he agreed to drop the drunk driving charges in exchange for pleas of no contest to two minor traffic offenses: Inattentive driving and Deviation from Lane. Aside from paying fines, CK suffered no consequences and his CDL remains fully intact. Another EXTREMELY satisfied client.

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

This fantastic result was achieved on the eve of MP's jury trial, in a county that is notoriously aggressive in pursuing drunk driving convictions. The prosecutor had already witnessed Dennis do significant damage to his case at a previous motion hearing and he feared the same thing would happen in front of the jury. Rather than risk losing, and embarrassing his officers, he gave Dennis what he wanted: no drunk driving charge. Needless to say, MP was thrilled.

Case #12: OWI-2nd/PAC-2nd (with .15 Blood Test Result) Reduced to Negligent Operation of a Motor Vehicle

If we told you the facts of this case you would not believe that this result was able to be achieved. Suffice it to say, they were very bad, particularly the video evidence. Nevertheless, Dennis was able to leverage an issue regarding the blood analysis into a truly remarkable result. Dennis' client avoided a drunk driving conviction and the case was resolved with a conviction for an offense that won't even appear on his driver record. A real result indeed.