Serious Science for Serious Lawyers: A Different Kind of DUI Seminar
Here is a bad scenario that has been experienced by almost all experienced DUI Defense lawyers:
A client says that he only had a little to drink. The police reports tell a different story. The video recording of the stop and arrest does not match the police report, but matches the client’s story. The driving was not horrible, but within the normal range; there was one minor lane deviation. The client did not look bad on the field sobriety exercises. In fact, the police officer administrated the tests incorrectly, as they often do.
The blood alcohol test, however, says .17. That number does not match the rest of the facts; but it is a very powerful piece of evidence. Many lawyers would just accept it and advise the client to plead guilty. After all, they think the science is foolproof.
Expert DUI defense lawyers know better. They know that a lot can go wrong with a blood test.
The investigation revealed a major flaw in the blood test protocol. There was a malfunction in the test equipment on the day the client’s blood was tested. The state does not agree. They claim that the blood test was accurate, even if there was a malfunction. The lawyer fights the case at a jury trial, but loses. Afterward, a juror says to the lawyer, "Well, maybe there were problems with the blood test, but you didn't prove it was wrong."
This is infuriating, because the defense is not supposed to have to prove anything! The burden of proof is on the state to prove that their equipment was working correctly.
Even experienced DUI lawyers have experienced something like this. The test result number that the machine spits out has a mystical, talismanic quality with the jury. Even when we are right on the science, it’s hard to win.
Why? Because we may know the science, but we need to improve our communication skills. I've been at this for 38 years. I've tried over 350 jury cases; and, I've won far more than my share. But even at age 64, I still feel like a student of my craft, with a lot to learn. It keeps me feeling young.
I've attended many DUI seminars over the decades, including in-depth trial advocacy courses (such as the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College), and the hands-on forensic science courses; and they are excellent.
Several years ago, I developed two courses for lawyers for the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD): Serious Science, Blood Analysis and Trial Advocacy. Sponsored by the NCDD, these courses have become the nation’s most advanced training in forensic science and trial advocacy. Until Serious Science, however, there was no in-depth science course that focused on how to communicate scientific concepts and theories of defenses to the jury.
We meet in Arlington Texas, for an intensive five-day experience on blood alcohol cases. We spend two days learning the science, including hands-on sessions at the Shimadzu Laboratory at the University of Texas- Arlignton, which is one of the most well-equipped research labs in the world.
We then spend three days working in small groups honing our skills in communicating the science to juries, with trial advocacy instructors trained at the Spence Trial Lawyers College. We are so grateful to TLC for sharing with us. Our Serious Science courses have been incredibly successful; and we are doing our next session June 14-19 2019. We alternate courses between alcohol and drug cases. In 2019 we will be working on alcohol analysis and trial advocacy. The last course at Arlington received the highest possible rating from every student who attended!
I’m grateful to the NCDD for allowing me to develop and teach these courses to some of the best, most dedicated lawyers from all over America. I know that as a law instructor, I learn more than the students. I always come back from Serious Science energized, and ready for my next case!
If you need a lawyer, you should always choose one who is committed to getting the best possible continuing legal education (and not just the minimum 15 credit hours per year). If you’re a lawyer, and you’re ready for an intensive five-day experience that will change the way that you try cases, then I hope to see you in Arlington Texas in June. If you are interested in taking the course, you may register at www.NCDD.com.