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An open letter to Colorado DUI officers...
I was in trial yesterday defending a young man accused of DUI. The arresting officer was the only witness for the prosecution. To say he was difficult would be a colossal understatement. We literally wasted at least an hour of the jury’s time simply because he refused to answer simple questions. At one point in the cross examination, I wanted to adopt the character of Stephen, the mad Irishman from the movie Braveheart and scream “STOP CHANGING THE SUBJECT AND ANSWER THE @%*#ING QUESTION!” Fortunately, I maintained my composure. This Colorado jury did not.
Officers, when you are a witness for the prosecution, it is NOT your role to be an advocate for the prosecution. It IS your role to be objective and honest about your observations of the accused. When the truth of the matter is that there was no evidence of any slurred speech, you shouldn’t hide that truth. When the truth of the matter is that you observed no evidence of problems with fine motor control, you shouldn’t hide that truth. When you are asked a reasonable question like “Officer, have you ever had bloodshot eyes that were not the result of consuming alcohol?” you should give an honest answer. This officer denied ever having bloodshot eyes in his entire life! Juries see through your dishonesty as this one did. When a DUI defense attorney asks you simple questions, you need not evade every one. It is OK to agree with the defense attorney on occasion. It does not make you weak. It makes you believable.