Friday, February 12, 2010
One of the linch-pins of DUI enforcement in Utah is a machine called the Intoxilyzer. The latest version is called the Intoxilyzer 8000 and is manufactured by a company called CMI, Inc.
Unfortunately, we don't know if the Intoxilyzer 8000 works. In my experience and based on my research, CMI has never allowed independent researchers to test the machine to verify that it accurately measures breath alcohol levels or that those breath alcohol levels correlate to blood alcohol levels. CMI refuses to sell the machine to anyone but law enforcement agencies and will not even supply information about its software.
California DUI attorney Lawrence Taylor writes on his blog that "In the one case where the manufacturer (Draeger) obeyed a court order — from the New Jersey Supreme Court — the machine involved (AlcoTest 7110) was found to use antiquated software that failed to meet even the most basic governmental and industrial standards."
So, does the Intoxilyzer 8000 work? We don't know. But people are being convicted and often jailed based on a machine that has never been externally verified and may have inaccurate software.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Mr. Gill is a democrat and is seeking his party’s nomination to run against the current District Attorney, republican Lohra Miller. Greg Skordas, a former member of the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, has already announced his intention to seek the democratic nomination as well.
Sim Gill was my boss when I worked as a Salt Lake City prosecutor for over a year. While I don’t know Mr. Skordas or Ms. Miller personally, and I cannot judge very well their qualifications to be DA, I believe that Mr. Gill would be an excellent District Attorney. While I worked with him, I found him to be an extremely ethical, professional leader. He has the vision to see that in many cases, traditional incarceration is neither cost effective nor a good way to prevent the repetition of criminal behavior. His initiative has brought mental health and drug courts to Salt Lake County and he plans to expand those programs.
Friday, January 15, 2010
When the police stop a car for a traffic violation, they have to let the car go once they reasonably finish the original stop.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, federal judge Clark Waddoups excluded evidence found after an illegal search of an automobile because the police officer continued to question the driver after the traffic stop had concluded.
The driver's attorney, Benjamin McMurray, argued that "no reasonable person would have felt free to drive away from an officer who continued an interrogation despite having repeatedly been refused."
The United States Constitution protects against unreasonable warrantless searches. The driver in this case may have been guilty of speeding, but that did not entitle the police officer to search his car.
I have seen numerous cases, both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, in which a police officer improperly extended a traffic stop and asked for consent to search a car. Usually, the officer needs either a warrant to search or the driver needs to give consent to search the car if the search is going to be legal. If the driver does not give consent it is often difficult for the officer to legally search.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
You can't defend yourself against criminal charges unless the police and the prosecution tell you what you've been charged with and provide you with the evidence that you need to prepare your defense.
The Federal and the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure require prosecutors to turn over evidence that is relevant to the defense's case preparation. But, the St. George Attorney's office refused to turn over the information they used to obtain a search warrant and information about a confidential informant after they had been requested under the Government Records Access Management Act.
The case was a federal prosecution, but the St. George attorney's office refused to comply with court orders that required them to turn the information over. Judge Dee Benson of the Utah Federal District Court permanently dismissed gun and drug charges that had been pending against Donald Gregory Edwards.
A Salt Lake Tribune story on the ruling can be found here.