Sunday, October 24, 2010

The DWI Defense Challenge, It's not about the truth

I just came back from two back to back Syracuse Law seminars. On Friday, Oct. 23, I went to a New York State Bar seminar on Expert Witness testimony, and on Saturday, Oct. 24, a New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers event at Syracuse Law school. That seminar had criminal defense lawyers from around the state speaking on a multitude of topics, one of which is my favorite, DWI defense.

I learn something new at each, and every seminar I attend. In fact at this seminar even the speakers hung around to learn from the other speakers. The best lawyers know it is never over. I will be the first to tell you that law is a practice. You work and grow from each case. No two cases are exactly the same. One of the speakers at S.U. is a favorite of mine, Ray Kelly. Ray is one of the most passionate and inspired advocates I have ever met. He reminds me and every other defense lawyer why what we do and how we do what we do is so important.

We represent fellow human beings. Ray takes that Oath to uphold the rights of others very seriously as do I. We have a duty of constant vigilance to not allow illegally sufficient evidence or evidence that has been obtained in a unconstitutional matter be used against out client.

The following synopsis paraphrased and shortened comes from Justice White's opinion in Wade, 388 U.S. at 256. We (criminal defense lawyers) have a duty to protect and defend. I have no obligation to ascertain or to present the truth. I need present nothing, even if I know what the truth is. If I can confuse a witness, even a truthful one, or make him appear at a disadvantage, unsure or indecisive, that will be my normal course of action. My interest in not convicting the innocent allows me to put the State to it's proof, put them in their worst light regardless of what I think or know to be the truth. In fact, my duty has little relation to the search for truth.

I must continue my commitment to POlice the POlice, challenge the prosecution, and to make sure that no person accused of a crime stands alone against the government.