The longest case is over, with no more appeals

Originally Posted on: Aug. 8 2008,8:23 by William Maze

On August 6, 2008, the clock ran out on one of my oldest cases. If you look down through this news, you’ll see several updates regarding various appeals on HGN that went before the Michigan Court of Appeals. After many, many appeals and evidentiary hearings, we went to trial in Harrisville, Michigan on a DUI case, where the officer found suspected marijuana in the vehicle after the arrest. The case started after my client was arrested on March 17, 2007, over two years ago.

This was a straight up case. I’ve been congratulated by a number of people, and I have graciously explained that this case was fun but (aside from the appeals and evidentiary issues) not extraordinary. I should explain that the client did not think it was fun. He was on the edge the whole time. But the case was not rocket science.

The client was stopped after failing to use his turn signal out in the middle of nowhere. It was a dark country road, but the officer had stationed himself off in the woods watching the intersection and saw the “civil infraction.” He followed the vehicle and claimed to see weaving and swerving, but none of that was recorded by his video. The officer admitted on the stand that he might have seen things that were not actually present because of “observer bias.” Observer bias plays an important role in DUI cases because officers frequently see things that they expect to see, even if those things are not actually present. This also played a huge role in the scoring of the field sobriety tests, since the officer scored clues that were not present, confirming in the officer’s own mind that he had seen things subjectively as opposed to objectively. Finally, the officer admitted that the .13 breath score was an unconfirmed result that could have been caused by a number of factors, including mouth alcohol.

Late at night, the jury returned a not guilty verdict. I want to thank the jurors, because I feel I was too windy and the case ran too late. I also want to thank the officer for his honesty on the stand. I told the client that the officer was due a Christmas basket, because it was the officer’s honesty that carried the day.