Last week was the annual DUI/OVI seminar presented by the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (OACDL). One of the slogans now attached to the seminar is ‘The Premiere Ohio DUI Defense Seminar’. When I hear that slogan, two questions come to mind:
1. Are there any other Ohio DUI defense seminars?
2. If so, what makes this one the ‘premiere’ seminar?
Full disclosure: I co-chaired the seminar this year, so my opinion is probably not unbiased.
With that said, my answers are:
1. Yes, there are, in fact, several other seminars focused on Ohio DUI/OVI, and
2. What makes this one the ‘premiere’ seminar is the topic of this blog entry.
One factor which makes the OACDL seminar impressive is the sheer volume of information. The seminar lasts for about 20 hours. During that time, about 35 speakers give presentations on topics relevant to DUI/OVI in Ohio. No other Ohio DUI/OVI seminar comes close to providing that amount of information. For some, such a long seminar may sound like a nightmare. For me, it’s time well spent.
Another quality which sets apart this seminar is the variety in the presentations. There is diversity both in the topics discussed and in the expertise level of the presentations. While most of the presentations are geared to beginners and experts alike, there are some presentations which appeal primarily to attorneys with expertise in DUI/OVI.
The element of the seminar which is most noteworthy is the people involved. This seminar always features some amazing speakers. While many of the speakers come from Ohio, others come from around the country, and this year at least one came from outside the country. These speakers are interesting enough to keep attendees’ attention for a 20-hour continuing education seminar!
The first day of the seminar featured mini mock trials. The mock trials included a jury with real jurors from the Franklin County Municipal Court and a panel of real judges from around the state. Different attorneys presented the different parts of the trial: jury selection, opening statements, direct examination, cross examination, and closing arguments. With that format, attendees had the opportunity to see several different styles and techniques. The attendees also heard feedback on the different styles and techniques from the jurors and judges.
The second day of the seminar included presentations on field sobriety testing. One of the speakers on this topic was nationally recognized DUI consultant Dr. Lance Platt. Dr. Platt gave a very informative presentation about the development and administration of standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). That presentation was supplemented with presentations discussing how attorneys address SFSTs in motion hearings and trials.
The third day of the seminar was a trial skills workshop. The workshop combined the hypothetical case from the mini mock trials and the information from Dr. Platt’s presentation on field sobriety testing. After a large group presentation, attendees were divided into several small groups. Each attendee was given the opportunity to cross-examine ‘officers’ about field sobriety tests, and each attendee received immediate feedback from trial skills instructors.
I recognize my enthusiastic review of the seminar is not completely objective. However, I’m not enthusiastic about the seminar because I’m involved in it. I’m involved in it because I’m enthusiastic about it. I want to constantly improve my effectiveness as a lawyer, and this seminar inspires me do that.