Friday, August 12, 2011

Salem Oregon Criminal Defense
Attorney Wins Another DUI Case

On July 20, 2011 a Yamhill County jury acquitted a client of Gig Wyatt, a Salem Oregon DUI criminal defense attorney, after 4 hrs deliberation. The defendant had crashed his vehicle on the side a a rural highway. A citizen stopped to render assistance and called 911 to report the accident and a “possible drunk driver.” She claimed she made a positive identification, though Mr Wyatt pointed out the it was very dark and she was certain she did not get out of her car. She observed him for a few brief seconds but testified she could ID him 16 after the event. Defendant walked home. Police arrived and, after field sobriety tests (FST’s) he was arrested for DUII. “I have found that, in order to win a DUII, the jury has to feel some discomfort level with the police”, according to Mr. Wyatt. Though 2 police officers testified, one of them left out a field sobriety test from his report that the other officer remembered him doing. Big mistake. This allowed the door to open for argument that there may be other mistakes, the officers may not be accurate, or they may feel a need to disregard otherwise beneficial evidence for the defense. “Normally, I tell the jury that these are fine police officers with whom you just may disagree with their opinion. That way, the jury doesn’t feel as though you are personally attacking the police.  Even though they may testify that, in their opinion, he failed FST’s, our defense reminded the jury that they are the judges of the facts, and if they disagree with the opinion of the police they may feel free to do so. "This is usually set up in jury selection with questions about feeling ok about disagreeing with someone else’s opinion, even a police officer”, Mr Wyatt said.
One of the police officers testified that the defendants speech was slurred, the other officer did not. The defense strategy was to leave this alone to argue in a closing argument. A question to the police officer may have prompted a response you don’t like. It was easy enough in closing for Mr Wyatt to say “both police officers heard him talk, but only one testified his speech was slurred…why?”
After 2 ½ hrs, the jury came back with a question. Questions often favor the defense. Just before 4 hrs (its torture to wait!), they had another question. The judge said he thought they wouldn’t be long after that and, predictably, they delivered “not guilty” within a few minutes.

Gig Wyatt, Attorney at Law
Harris, Wyatt, Amala, LLC.
5778 Commercial St. SE
Salem, OR 97306
503-378-7744
www.SalemDUI.com
www.SalemOregonCriminalDefense.com

Monday, August 8, 2011

License Suspension Hearing - DUI

People sometimes ask why is it important to request a license suspension hearing with DMV in a DUII case. Often times these questions are posed from someone who is already suspended, doesn't need their license, possibly an out of state driver or some other reason. While the license suspension issue may be less important to some than others, the information learned at the implied consent hearing is invaluable. Keep in mind that at this hearing the arresting officer will actually testify about all of the facts surrounding the arrest. Often we are able to learn important facts about the stop, the field sobriety tests, the officer's subjective reasons for probable cause and important details about the breath test or refusal. In the hearing, I have learned significant facts which have supported suppression of the stop or arrest (resulting in a dismissal of the DUII), or information leading to the suppression of the breath test or the refusal. All of these factors are helpful in the overall fact-finding determination of the case.


Gig Wyatt, Attorney at Law
DUII Defense
www.SalemDUI.com

Harris, Wyatt, Amala, LLC.
5778 Commercial St. SE
Salem, OR 97306
503-378-7744