Seminar Sharpens The Saw

I’m afraid of heights. I passed on the opportunity to go on the 450′ observation wheel, and I steered clear of the zip line starting at the 50th floor of the hotel. For me, just getting to the 50th floor was challenging because it required riding up an external glass elevator. While others took in the sights of the city on the way up, I faced the door and repeatedly read the maximum capacity of the elevator (30 people and 4,500 pounds). The ride was worth it: I enjoyed a great meal and an amazing view from the Voodoo Lounge. What a great way to wrap-up my annual trek to Las Vegas for the seminar presented by the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD)

WP_20140914_014.jpg The yearly seminar, “DWI Means Defend With Ingenuity”, always recharges my batteries. Although I truly enjoy my practice, and there is no work I would rather do, everyone needs an occasional break from the routine. The Vegas trip is an opportunity to ‘sharpen the saw‘.

It’s also an opportunity to learn from some of the best DUI lawyers in the country. I teach other Ohio lawyers about DUI/OVI defense, and I always learn something from the other speakers at the statewide seminars. I’ve heard it said, however, if you really want to be one of the best in your area, you need a benchmark of world-class colleagues. The speakers at the NCDD seminars are world-class.


The presentation which stood-out to me the most was the closing argument by Jim Nesci (AZ). I am on the OVI Committee for the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL), and Jim has been our guest more than once at the annual OACDL OVI seminar. This presentation was different from those Jim has given at the Ohio OVI seminar. Rather than talk about how to give a closing argument, he gave a closing argument. It’s like the difference between talking about dancing and doing it. Afterward, he de-constructed the closing and discussed the theories and techniques in detail.

One day featured what I think of as the ‘wet and dry’ presentations. The ‘wet’ presentation featured volunteers drinking unknown quantities of alcohol and then taking field sobriety tests and breath tests. The contrasting presentation I label ‘dry’ due to its scientific topic: understanding gas chromatography for DUI analysis. The scientific aspect of DUI/OVI defense did not come easily to me, and every lecture I attend about gas chromatography helps me understand it a little better.

There were a couple other presentations I thought were particularly good. One was George Bianchi’s (WA) discussion of ‘cannabis and cars’; a look at the varying state laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana. As George correctly noted, Ohio has one of the most complicated and least logical laws for marijuana OVI. The other memorable presentation was business consultant Alvaro Arauz sharing his knowledge about managing a law practice as a business.

My trip wasn’t all business. I managed to make time for some activities outside the seminar like the Mob Museum, a poker tournament, and dune buggy racing (all activities on the ground rather than 450′ in the air). I feel like my saw is sharpened: I’m recharged and ready to “defend with ingenuity”.