by Mike Arnold – 02.09.2017. Yesterday we won a really interesting and tough case involving an alleged running of a red light where the client crashed into a car with five passengers at 9 p.m. Two of them were little kids in car seats. Three people were said to be injured in the crash. My client admitted to consuming marijuana in the morning at 8:30. Two police officer DREs (Drug Recognition Evaluators) opined that he was impaired by cannabis and he had to have consumed more recently. They also opined that cannabis adversely affects a user for up to 24 hours.
Thanks to my client’s wonderful family being my focus group watching the trial and giving me ideas and taking notes, we were able to destroy the government’s case on cross-examination. The jury came back the second day of deliberations and found my client not guilty of all counts (DUI, Assault x 3, Reckless Endangering x 3).
After the trial, one of the jurors gave my client’s mom a hug. Another said that the DRE process needs to be reworked. Another said he wished I was his attorney for his case because I “kicked the DAs ass.” But then he laughed and said that on cross I was “such a dick.” Perhaps it was also my comment that the only two people that weren’t physically injured were the two pre-verbal kids in the car seats that weren’t old enough to lie. That’s why Wigmore says that cross-examination “beyond any doubt the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.” That engine was running hot over the last week.
The trial illustrated several things important for our communities. Cannabis consumption and driving while impaired is a serious issue. The current system doesn’t do a good job at gathering credible evidence for those that are guilty and gets innocent people wrongly caught up in the process.
The system needs a blood test rather than just a urine test. There needs to be more peer-reviewed studies on impairment of MJ by neurologists rather than police officer crime labs. Also, there needs to be head cams on all DREs during the examinations. Finally, in 2017, there is no excuse for not having body cameras on all officers.
Lane County wants to pass another jail levy. Springfield has a beautiful taxpayer funded courthouse palace with six-inch wood trim in the courtrooms. How about better resource allocation to allow for better investigations that protect the police from false accusations and the public from the same.
As for cannabis, most experts and researches say that the adverse affects last for 2-3 hours and possibly up to five hours. Of course, every time someone smokes doesn’t necessarily mean they will have adverse affects. Nonetheless, the more that cannabis becomes mainstreamed, the more first-time consumers that will be out there experimenting and then driving. Also, more and more people will choose MJ over ETOH, which I think is a good thing, considering the horrors of alcohol abuse and drunk driving.
Marijuana is tricky though because there are some hypotheses out there that marijuana’s adverse effects can be harder for the user to perceive after time. That hypotheses has no business in a courtroom without scientific backing. Solution: fund some research. Until then, attorney fees will be wasted, money will be spent on senseless courtroom police officer overtime, and jurors will miss work just to return not guilty verdicts. The legislature and the police are on notice.