Recently in DUI/OVI continuing education Category

March 9, 2014

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU HANDLE DUI/OVI CASES

Last week was the annual DUI/OVI seminar hosted by the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL). The three-day seminar, held at the Westin in downtown Columbus, has become nationally recognized and is one of the few state seminars approved for credit from the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD). The theme of this year's seminar was 'what you need to know if you handle DUI/OVI cases'. There is a lot a lawyer needs to know, so the conference did not deal with substantive law: cases, statutes, and regulations. Instead, outstanding lawyers and experts from across the country taught about science, litigation, and presentation.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 2014 OACDL DUI Seminar brochure page 3.jpgOn Thursday, the seminar focused on the science involved in DUI/OVI cases. Jim Nesci (AZ) outlined what lawyers and judges need to know about breath testing. His presentation was followed by Al Staubus (OH) discussing the Intoxilyzer 8000 breath-testing machine and Chuck Rathburn (IN) discussing the Datamaster breath-testing machine. Cleve Johnson (OH) gave a thought-provoking lecture about the science behind decision-making. There were also presentations about blood testing (Justin McShane, PA) and forensic laboratories (Ron Moore, CA), as well as field sobriety testing and drug recognition evaluations (Tony Corroto, GA). For the first time, the conference on Thursday included a Q&A session between a panel of judges and the presenters/experts.

On Friday, the seminar focused on litigation in DUI/OVI cases. John Saia (OH) gave a presentation about the legal framework for DUI/OVI trials, and Tim Huey (OH) presented on trials with breath tests. I spoke about the Lancaster case in Marietta: the case in which the judge excluded the Intoxilyzer 8000 because we proved it is unreliable. The Intoxilzer 8000 and the Lancaster case have been the subject of previous posts in this blog (does that make me a one-trick pony?). Joe St. Louis (AZ) and Kim Frye (GA) demonstrated first-person opening statements, and Jay Ruane (CT) discussed timing and graphics in closing arguments. Justin McShane (PA) showed how he cross-examines expert witnesses, and Deandra Grant (TX) did jury selection with 'team innocent'. Jury selection was also the topic for Joe Low (CA), which transitioned to the next day's Trial Skills Academy.

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January 11, 2014

MODERN SCARLET LETTER: OHIO'S DUI / OVI HABITUAL OFFENDER REGISTRY

Someone who has multiple conviction for DUI (called OVI in Ohio) faces increasingly severe consequences with each conviction. For example, while a first OVI typically results in three days in a hotel at a driver intervention program, a third offense with a high test or test refusal is a mandatory minimum of 60 days in jail. Ohio's OVI sentencing law recognizes that a first offense may be an isolated incident, but a third offense is something more. If a person gets to the point of having five OVI convictions, that person is supposed to be listed in a registry of habitual OVI offenders.

Scarlet letter.jpgOhio's habitual OVI offender registry is maintained by the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS). It is mandatory for courts to send the Department of Public Safety information about DUI / OVI offenders including the number of times these individuals have been convicted of these specific crimes in the last two decades. If someone is convicted of OVI, Physical Control Under The Influence, Boating Under The Influence, or a similar offense five times in 20 years, that person is to be placed in the registry of habitual offenders. This searchable internet database includes a lot of personal information about the individual, including the offender's name, birth date, number of convictions within 20 years, and the person's physical address.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety recently announced that a recent update to the registry added significantly more people to the registry. The total number of people on the registry now stands at 5,331; a stark contrast to fewer than 400 before the recent update. According to those responsible, they managed to improve the system by compiling information from computerized court records instead of waiting on the submission of paper forms. Franklin County now has 389 repeat offenders listed in the registry, a huge increase from the 15 people on the list just two months ago.

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November 9, 2013

DUI / OVI IN OHIO JUVENILE COURTS

I recently represented a client for a DUI / OVI in a juvenile court near Columbus, Ohio. The case went to trial, and I was sharing my experience with a colleague. The colleague happened to be coordinating a DUI / OVI seminar for the Columbus Bar Association, and he asked me to speak at the seminar on the topic of handling DUI / OVI cases in juvenile court. The topic is a good one because most attorneys do not regularly represent clients for DUI / OVI in juvenile court, and there are some differences between juvenile cases and adult cases.

Juvenile DUI.gifOne issue that comes up in juvenile DUI / OVI cases that does not really come up in adult DUI / OVI cases is venue: where the case will be heard. There seems to be some misunderstanding about the juvenile's ability to transfer the venue. Ohio law says the complaint (the traffic ticket) may be filed either in the county of the juvenile's residence or the county where the offense occurred. If the ticket is filed in the county where the offense occurred, it can only be transferred to the county of the juvenile's residence if the judge authorizes it. Even then, either judge can order that the trial be held in the county where the offense occurred. There is a little-used paragraph of Juvenile Rule 11 that says the case must be transferred if the juvenile has a pending case in the county of the juvenile's residence. So, if you want the case to be heard in the county of the juvenile's residence, simply have the juvenile get charged with a minor offense like littering in his home county!

Another issue that is unique for juveniles and drivers under age 21 is the level of proof required to arrest the driver for DUI / OVI. As the 'legal limit' for drivers under 21 (.02) is lower than the limit for drivers over 21 (.08), the question becomes whether officers need less evidence of intoxication to justify arresting a driver under 21. The answer depends on where the case is being heard. Ohio has 12 appellate districts. Some of those appeals courts say less evidence is required, some of them say the same level of evidence is required, and some of them have not addressed the issue.

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October 11, 2013

THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS IN DUI/OVI TRIALS

Last week, I attend the annual DUI seminar presented by the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). I attend the seminar nearly every year, mostly because it's a great seminar, and partly because it's held in Las Vegas. Before this year's seminar, I decided I would do something different. Although it violates the rule about what happens in Vegas, I'm sharing it here.

Red Rock Canyon.jpgBefore the seminar, I decided I would spend a little less time in the casinos and a little more time in nature. I rented a car, researched hiking opportunities, downloaded hiking trails, and planned a day trip at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Then, the federal government shut-down began one day before my trip to Red Rock. It was like the movie Vacation when the Griswold family arrived at Wally World to find out it was closed. There were park rangers at the park entrances turning people away because there were no funds to pay the park rangers. The irony, of course, was that the rangers were working to tell people the park was closed. So, I found a nearby state park and was able to hike in Red Rock Canyon after all. The scenery was great, and the hike was memorable.

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March 12, 2013

THE PREMIERE OHIO D.U.I. DEFENSE LAWYERS' SEMINAR

A Buddhist proverb says, "When the student is ready, the master appears." For three days last week, D.U.I. lawyers from across the state, and across the country, convened in Columbus for 'The Premier Ohio D.U.I. Defense Seminar' sponsored by the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL). The students were ready, and the masters appeared.

logo_oacdl_navy.pngContinuing education for lawyers is crucial. Law school is not the end of our education; it's only the beginning. The law is constantly changing. Our understanding of science continually develops. There are never-ending improvements of lawyering techniques. There is a lot to learn.

One great way to learn is to find out what other lawyers are doing throughout the state and throughout the nation. One of the best educational sources for D.U.I. lawyers is the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD). NCDD members are required to regularly attend NCDD-approved seminars, and the Ohio DUI Defense Seminar is one of the few seminars in the country that qualifies as an NCDD-approved seminar. This year's seminar featured several outstanding presentations on Thursday and Friday, as well as a "Trial Skills Academy" on Saturday.

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October 27, 2012

NCDD VEGAS SEMINAR 2012: A SURE WINNER


Last week was the annual seminar sponsored by the National College for DUI Defense in Las Vegas. I have attended the seminar for years, and it is consistently a great seminar. It doesn't hurt that it's in Vegas, but what really makes it great is the caliber of presenters.

The seminar is co-sponsored by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), and current NACDL president Steven Benjamin gave a great presentation about the report from the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) report: "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward". Other outstanding speakers included Troy McKinney on the topic of blood testing discovery and William "Bubba" Head on the issue of winning the unwinnable case by proving police perjury.

The highlight of the seminar for me was the presentation by F. Lee Bailey. Bailey is literally a living legend, having defended such high profile clients as Sam Sheppard ("The Fugitive"), Ernest Medina (the My Lai Massacre), Patty Hearst (bank robberies after being kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army), and O.J. Simpson (no parenthetical explanation required!). He touched on some of those cases as he delivered an outstanding presentation about taking command of the courtroom. A surprising part of his talk was that Bailey (age 79) discussed the importance of technology in the courtroom and even gave specific recommendations for tablets, apps, and projectors.

F. Lee Bailey was the superstar of another great NCDD/NACDL DUI seminar in Vegas. I plan to incorporate some of the seminar's material in my D.U.I./O.V.I. practice, including the recommended apps and projector!

August 4, 2012

THE GOLD STANDARD FOR D.U.I./O.V.I. SEMINARS

For some lawyers, attending continuing legal education seminars is like going to the dentist; necessary, but not something you look forward to. For me, I actually look forward to many of the seminars I attend, and there are a few I have repeated. One I just attended for the second time is the "summer session" of the National College for D.U.I. Defense.

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The NCDD summer session is inspirational, educational, and intense. The seminar is held at the Harvard Law School, and settings for academic excellence don't get much more inspirational than the historic Austin Hall. Some of the best D.U.I. lawyers from around the country attend the seminar to hear from the 'best of the best'. The topics included breath testing, gas chromatography (for blood and urine testing), and field sobrietytests.

A focus of the seminar is trial skills, so speakers discussed advanced techniques for jury selection, cross examination, and closing arguments. After lectures, we met in small groups for workshops to improve skills on the techniques discussed in the presentations. Following a long day of lectures and workshops, the education continued on the patio of the Charles Hotel, where one can learn nearly as much from the informal conversation as the formal lectures.

The summer session is the gold standard for seminars and is a must for serious D.U.I. lawyers. I returned with re-charged batteries and a renewed enthusiasm for my practice. I look forward to using improved techniques to help my clients with O.V.I. cases in Columbus and the central Ohio area.

March 11, 2012

DUI/OVI LAWYERS' SEMINAR: "ALL OTHERS WILL BE CROSS EXAMINED"

Last week was the annual DUI seminar presented by the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL). The 2012 Advanced DUI Seminar was one of the best seminars I have been part of. The ballroom at the Westin Great Southern Hotel in Columbus, Ohio was overflowing on Thursday and Friday with attendees from across the state and across the nation. The attendees from other states were members of the National College for DUI Defense. Members of the NCDD must attend at least one seminar every two years that is sponsored or approved by NCDD, and the OACDL seminar is of one of few seminars that is approved by NCDD.

On Thursday and Friday, leading DUI attorneys from Ohio and across the country gave presentations and demonstrations. Thursday's program included discussions of field sobriety tests, drugged driving, blood testing and breath testing, accident investigation, and the Intoxilyzer 8000. Topics on Friday included analyzing videos of DUI stops and arrests, jury selection, and pleadings in the DUI court process.

On Saturday was the first ever OACDL Trial Skills Workshop. We worked on the action method for case preparation, connecting with jurors, and the McCarthy method for cross examination. I was part of the faculty for the trial skills workshop, and I worked with outstanding lawyers like Patrick Barone, Bruce Kapsack, Josh Lee, Todd La Neve, and Michele Tjader. It was well worth giving up a Saturday for this workshop (and it finished just in time for the Buckeyes tipoff!).

Seminar attendees took away some practical tips they can incorporate in their practices, as well as hundreds of pages of written materials for later reference. For me, an added benefit was recharging my enthusiasm for my practice, and especially for trials. The tee shirt given to the faculty for the trial skills workshop sums it up: "In God We Trust...All Others Will Be Cross Examined".

December 11, 2011

INTERESTING SEMINAR ABOUT MISTAKES COMMONLY MADE IN OHIO O.V.I. CASES

Lawyers are required to attend a certain number of hours of continuing education every two years. Compliance with this rule is reported in January, so there are always a lot of continuing education programs in December. One of the programs offered this December was the Columbus Bar Association's 2011 O.V.I. seminar. This year's program not only fulfilled continuing education requirements but was also very interesting and educational.

The theme of the seminar was "mistakes commonly made in O.V.I. cases". D.U.I.attorneys from central Ohio and across the state made presentations on how to avoid those common mistakes. I presented on the topic of "don't be bullied into throwing away your client's rights", and the general message was how to be a strong advocate for your client in the court process but still treat opposing counsel with respect and professionalism. It was consistent with the post in this blog about 'the under-rated lawyering skill".

The most interesting presentation was from two people that served as jurors in a vehicular homicide case. One of the jurors happened to be a judge from the Franklin County Municipal Court. The other juror was a young woman with no prior jury service. It was helpful to learn what evidence the jurors found persuasive, what evidence did not have an impact, and how the jurors responded to the attorneys' questioning and arguments. It was especially interesting to hear about the dynamics of the jury deliberation and voting.

Continuing education seminars are notorious for being boring (it is now time to get out your newspaper and/or smart phone...). This seminar, however, was interesting from start to finish (assuming mine was interesting!). Well done, Columbus Bar Association.

September 18, 2011

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS...

What happens in Vegas in the fall is the annual seminar "DWI Means Defend With Integrity". The seminar is presented by the National College For DUI Defense and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). The seminar is great because these two organizations are the best sources of continuing education seminars for D.U.I. lawyers and criminal defense attorneys. Having the seminar in Vegas also doesn't hurt, as attendees can get an annual refresher on when to hit, stand, split and double- down.

Each year, I attend many seminars (and also speak at some), and the presentations at the Vegas seminar are consistently among the best. This year, top DUI attorneys spoke on topics such as "The Cure For Bad Breath" for breath testing, "Winning FST Cross" for field sobriety tests, and "Gas Chromatography" for blood tests and urinetests. As always, I received several useful tips for my practice, and this year I also learned not to go all-in on three-of-a-kind when there is a flush draw on the board.

Continuing education is critical for DUI attorneys, because the practice of law is constantly evolving. I attend more seminars than required because doing so really helps me keep up with changes in the law, strategies, and technology. At this seminar, I learned nearly as much from the informal idea exchange among the lawyers as I did from the formal presentations. I also was reminded that there are only five ways to roll a six or eight, but there are six ways to roll a seven.

What happens in Vegas doesn't always have to stay in Vegas. I'm ready to incorporate some key "take-aways" in my practice immediately. In addition to providing valuable strategies, the Vegas seminar also always refreshes my passion for my practice. Maybe I should go to Vegas more often....WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS...