As criminal defense attorneys, we often times get caught up in the legal details of a DUI investigation. If an attorney is worth his salt, he has spent thousands of hours researching DUI forensics and DUI defenses. When he speaks with friends or in front of a jury, he sounds more like a scientist than an attorney. Challenging DUI cases means an effective attorney has a sound understanding of chemistry and biology. From a biology standpoint, we need to know how the human body processes alcohol. From a chemistry standpoint, understanding how machines are calibrated and breath and blood are tested is critical to our trade. We use jargin such as aliquots, nanograms, gas chromatography, microliters and anticoagulants. While not having a degree, we know more about science than the average person.
With all that said, sometimes we are so focused on looking at the complex details of a DUI case that we overlook some of the very obvious facts. I had a DUI case this morning in Tolleson, Arizona where I spent hours analyzing and scrutinizing the methods in which my client’s blood was tested. I combed over every little detail regarding his stop and field sobriety tests.
As I was heading into court, it occurred to me that the police offer filed my client’s case in the wrong court. While my client’s arrest was very close to the jurisdiction the case was filed at, it was half a mile into another court’s jurisdiction. This wasn’t obvious at its face because in Arizona, the county has several different small courts with their own little jurisdiction boundaries. It’s not as simply as arrested in city A; therefore, case is sent to city A’s court.
After noticing the miss filing, I ran into court to file a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Court granted my motion and my client’s case was dismissed without prejudice. While the state could still file in the appropriate court, there’s always the chance they will forget or are simply too busy to refile. Either way, we will be keeping our fingers crossed.
Sometimes we need to take our lawyers hats off and look at cases from an outsider’s prospective.