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.
Continuing 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.
On Thursday, Deandra Grant (Texas) gave an outstanding presentation on evidence in blood-test cases. She explained testing methodologies for different types of blood samples (whole, plasma, serum), discussed obtaining all of the evidence necessary to challenge blood tests, and made recommendations on presenting the evidence to the judge/jury. Her presentation was complemented by that of Dr. Jimmie Valentine (Mississippi) regarding gas chromatography in blood and urine testing. On Thursday, I was part of a panel that discussed the developments with the Intoxilyzer 8000 in Ohio O.V.I. cases.
On Friday, Marcos Garza (Tennessee) presented legal challenges to drug recognition evaluations. He discussed the ‘expertise’ of drug recognition evaluators and the 12 steps they take to give an opinion about the category of drug impairing the subject. His presentation was complemented Dr. Fran Gengo’s (New York) review of the science behind the drug recognition evaluation program. On Friday, I presented, with Dayton attorney Larry Denny, on the studies underlying NHTSA’s field sobriety tests.
On Saturday, the O.A.C.D.L. held its second annual “Trial Skills Academy”. I participated as an instructor, but I think I learned more than I taught, as the Trial Skills Academy featured such talented lawyers as Patrick Barone (Michigan), Jeff Meadows (Ohio), Michele Tjader (Wisconsin), and Harley Wagner (West Virginia).
For three days, Columbus was the center of the D.U.I. universe. In addition to learning formally at the seminar, I had the privilege of learning informally from the speakers after the seminar sessions. There is truth to the Chinese proverb that says, “A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study”. Now, it’s time incorporate that knowledge in my practice: as Stephen Covey said, “To know and not to do is really not to know”.