width=”500″ height=”500″ />How can a “flat earth” argument be equated to an argument in California DUI law regarding the broad use of beathalyzer tests in court?
It may seem an odd way to put it, but the US Supreme Court has not taken up a California DUI appeal this week, which has removed one argument used by DUI attorneys to defend their clients on drunk driving cases, and they’re not happy.
The ruling was first made by the California Supreme Court in Vangelder v. California, and the state ruling will stand because the Supreme Court rejected a request to review the state case.
San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith compared the arguments against breathalyzer tests to arguments that “the Earth is flat.”
“[Attorneys] can challenge the particular machine, but they can’t challenge the science behind the machine,” Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith said he’s seen too many instances of defense attorneys employing shaky expert testimony in drunk driving cases.
“Jurors are sitting there thinking, ‘Well, this expert sounds like he knows what he’s doing… so maybe the Earth really is flat?’” Goldsmith said, “So you have the risk of confusing the jurors.”
Still, the city attorney says when drunk driving charges do make it to a courtroom in San Diego County, more than 99 percent of defendants are found guilty.
However, well-known D.U.I. attorney Cole Casey said he isn’t worried about the ruling’s impact on his ability to defend his clients, San Diego 6.com report.
“It doesn’t really change the landscape that much,” Casey told San Diego 6. “It just takes away one tactic that some attorneys would use to say, ‘just generally, you can’t trust breath testing.’”
Casey said he prefers his clients’ defense to rely on more substantial evidence like blood testing “simply because it gives me something to hold on to. I can then have that blood retested by a private laboratory. A breath test? I can’t do that. I have to take a piece of paper from a machine and hope that it’s accurate.”
In Casey’s opinion, a second Supreme Court decision from Wednesday will have an even bigger impact on arrests for drunk driving or any other charge.
Casey said the ruling to require police officers to obtain a warrant before searching an arrestee’s cell phone is pivotal.