Friday, September 2, 2016

Pulling a Jury for a New York DWI Trial

I'm one of those guys, you know the ones who actually like to talk. Who as my kids say talks to anyone and everyone. I generally like people, and am a junior psychologist of sorts. Maybe it comes from my mother or just the fact that I'm happy to be able to talk at all. One of the better things about liking to talk to people is what you can hear. People when they open up tell you exactly how they feel.

Learning to be a Better Defense Attorney Begins with Listening to the Viewpoint of Assistant District Attorneys (prosecutors) 

It's nice to hear a prosecutor's perspective on different cases. Nice to know how, and what they're thinking. Sometimes it's so at odds with what a defense attorney thinks about the same thing. Given an opportunity many ADAs will share openly and honestly about cases.

First Place of Defense Lawyer Prosecutor Agreement: Jury Trials Can Be a Big Suck

We do all agree on one thing: Jury trials are a big deal. It's like going to war. You have to know what you're investing. Lots of time, energy, and money go into a trial.  Anyone that feels otherwise is either one of those delusional types or just likes to waste people's time, energy, and money. There are quite a few attorneys that dare I say fall into both categories.

I'm more a pragmatist. What is truly in my client's best interests? Does this serve my client or merely my own ego? Believe me the large majority of times that I want a trial, would actually love a trial, it is not in my client's best interests.

There is Hell to Pay for an Unwanted or Unnecessary Trial

We may have a great defense but we also may have a judge that will make every single step we take painful. This same judge and prosecutor if we ultimately lose will take it out not on me but on my client. This wrath will be cloaked in many reasons why they deserve the full weight of the court and of justice but believe me when I say it's retribution for the trial.

Even with all that said, so what's really involved with getting a jury into the box.

Trials Begin with Picking a Jury

Remember that of the 6,200 plus little town and villages courts dotted over the landscape of the great state of New York many are run by part-time clerks and part-time judges. That said if there is to be a jury trial, it begins with the clerk. Judges and their clerks have to work closely together to ensure that all the checks, boxes, and balances all align. There is no bigger deal than a jury trial. Everyone is watching and everything is being recorded. Being fair, impartial, and unbiased in these low population (tight knit) towns is no small feat.

STEP ONE: The clerk must Summon the Prospective Jurors by contacting the Commissioner of Jurors Office of that county.

Every county in New York State has a Commissioner of Jurors Office which will administer all jury needs, this includes the jury needs of every town and village Court.   

Generally speaking they will need to begin with a Full Jury Venire of anywhere from 45 to 50 people to get down to 6 jurors and 3 alternates. Why so many people? We need to begin with a lot of people because so many people will not be able to serve for medical reasons, family reasons, religious reasons, and employment reasons.

Not Everyone is the Perfect Juror for a DWI Case

Even after all of that we will go through what is called Voir Dire to ask the jurors questions about their ability to serve on this jury fairly and impartially. This jury will be hearing evidence on a DWI or DWAI drugs case?

Do they have any preformed prejudices or beliefs that would not allow them to just weigh the evidence? Not everyone is the perfect juror for every jury trial. Some people are great jurors but not on every type of case. In their past history they may have had run ins with the justice system, with drunk drivers, with alcoholic husbands, with drug addicts, or with their own children or family members that have struggled with drugs and/or alcohol.

The difficulties with getting a fair and impartial DWI or DWAI drugs jury pool is that many people will hide, will deny, and will even perjure themselves before revealing their own demons. Problems with drugs and alcohol are so prevalent in our society.

Just jury selection or more de-selection on a DWI or DWAI drugs case can take a full day or more. It takes just that long to allow people to finally open up. I have seen those that were convicted of DWI manslaughter and spent years in prison sit in the jury for pool for hours before raising a hand.

"Excuse me I don't think I can be fair and impartial." "I killed someone while DWI about 19 years ago." Another hand goes up, "I run a church group that is against all drinking but I still feel I can be fair and impartial." Another hand goes up, "my brother died of a drug overdose."

Every single person that has a strong charge against drugs and/or alcohol must be screened. As we say "void dired." Next blog post:


Saturday, August 27, 2016

What if Atticus Finch was a DWI Lawyer?

Atticus Finch is the fictional lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird. I'd like to think we as present day DWI defense attorneys could learn a few things from this amazing man of fiction.

It all comes down to understanding yourself, and others.

Atticus has a young daughter, Scout. Like most dads he wants give his daughter a real life education not just an academic one. One line from the movie is most riveting:

If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it

The Truth about Tampering with DWI Evidence in New York

In my surfing on the web I recently ran across this headline, more like link bait:

"Brilliant new DUI defense: Lawyer eats breathalyzer report"

First, the reality is they don't give "the" evidence directly to DWI defense attorneys. Breath test reports and blood test reports are a copy of a copy of a copy so to even think or believe that you have destroyed THE evidence is utter stupidity.

Second, destruction or tampering with evidence in a criminal case in New York State is a Felony level offense. This is punishable by up to four years in state prison not the local county jail.

Lastly, the original inspiration for this article was a Yahoo news story from Russia. This isn't even a United States legal situation. To compare their legal system at any level to ours is in a word absurd.

Imagine these real Tampering with Evidence DWI situations in the good old United States of America in New York State:

  • Guy stopped for speeding, cops smell weed, find a joint in his ashtray (a marijuana violation), and an eighth in  his pocket (possession) a mere misdemeanor at that point then he decides to EAT IT, and is facing a FELONY level offense for destruction of evidence.
  • Person is DWI then hits a parked car, knocks off the car's side view mirror. He gets out and puts the mirror in his car, and drives off.  Later is stopped for DWI, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, and evidence tampering/destruction/concealment, A FELONY.
If you have a DWI, DWAI drugs, or other traffic related offense in Ithaca, Watkins Glen, or the surrounding counties, give us a call:



Or find us online!

DISCLAIMER:  If you or a loved one is charged with a crime in NY, we strongly urge you to consult with a local, licensed criminal defense attorney to help lessen the possible negative outcomes of the charge--including the potential loss of your freedom.

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*Educational Purposes only. Copyright 2016 NEWMAN & CYR PLLC.

Using The Equity Defense in New York DWI

DWI Equity Defenses = Fairness in Prosecution




1. the quality of being fair and impartial.

Many DWI cases we defend have horrible facts, terrible video, and usually involve multiple charges. In situations like these criminal defense attorneys must look beyond the facts, and beyond the law to the defense of EQUITY. Ah sweet equity, the word just rolls off your tongue, and it can be for all intents and purposes a savior of sorts.

Can we inject fairness into what some believe is an unfair DWI process?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Power of "I want a lawyer" with Klonipin, Xanax, Benzo DWAI Drugs

A recent New York State DWAI drug case conviction for manslaughter was overturned by the Appellate Court. It is now being set for a new trial without mind you the blood evidence of drugs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Ithaca, New York Makes Law: A Story of Pot, Parks, and People

from epodunk, Dewitt Park

Little Ithaca, NY is no more than a blip on the map but things do happen here as evidenced by a recently published Ithaca City Court decision. This particular case involved pot smoking in one of our beautiful little downtown parks. You see marijuana is ubiquitous to Ithaca as well as those who like to partake. Yes New York State now does have "medical" marijuana but we are a world away from the medical use of marijuana in California or even New Jersey. But that is a story all it's own for another day. The police here still view pot in a criminal way and not a casual one. You know where people just relax and breathe deep amidst the joys of nature.

The Ithaca, NY Mix of Pot, People, and Public Parks

When you mix up pot with people in a public place you can see how things can go abit awry. The case is called People v. Brukner, see the full legal decision here:

Mr. Brukner was merely hanging out with a bunch of his friends in Dewitt Park on a lovely July night. Oh the Ithaca weather in July is delicious. The summer time is truly the time to enjoy all that the Finger Lakes have to offer. It is a welcome respite after enduring another harsh and brutal winter. The cold in Ithaca is not just a temperature thing it's a severely depressing one with tones of grey and night ocean blue.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Use of Proper Analogy: DWI Defense Learns from Firestone

I recently was taking care of my daughter's car at Firestone. One of my dad duties is taking care of the cars. Maybe because I'm supposed to take care of anything involving a motor, gas, electric, or of a mechanical nature. So I brought it in for an oil change, and the once over.

Batteries and Core Charges

Guy does the hey "by the way" we found that your battery is running weak. We have a solution, a new battery. Ok, I'm there but when I get the bill there is a charge I don't quite get.

Battery charge
Core charge
Trade in Core credit
Install and replace Charge

Called the Core charge, meaning every battery has a core that is still useful/recycle-able. And some people keep their old battery, it still works but weakly. What I could not get or he could not help me understand was why I was being charged for an additional CORE plus getting credit for my trade in CORE?

He kept telling me the same thing over and over but I wasn't getting it. What he needed was an analogy.

Google Helps Me Understand CORE Charges by Analogy

Thank G-d for google, I googled CORE and charges and understood it perfectly.

The CORE charge is just like the recycle charge on a can of soda. It's a fee you pay in addition to the cost of the item for recycling it. If you return the can you get the recycle charge back.

That's the power of analogy. I sometimes use with juries,

New York State DWI is One Test One Sample Tested One Time

New York is a one test one time one sample state, would you go to a doctor and let him make a diagnosis based upon one test one time taking just one body sample?

Would you let that same doctor decide on treatment, drug therapy, or surgery based upon that single test?

If there are doubts in the case besides this all of them are amplified by the unfairness of this analogy. The danger inherent in finding a person guilty based upon evidence like this.

If you have questions about a DWI charge in New York, call us at 607-229-5184

Or find us online!  

Copyright 2016.  Educational Use Only.

If you are charged with a crime, we strongly urge you to consult with a local, licensed criminal defense attorney to lessen the possible negative outcomes of a charge --including the potential loss of your freedom. 

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