"Not Guilty -
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 1/2 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.