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.