Maryland DUI Lawyer Blog

Today the New York Times featured on its front page a story about a Baltimore woman who had to endure a $25,000 bond, numerous court appearances, a suspended drivers’ license, and 34 days in the Baltimore City Jail for a first offense DUI with a 0.09 BAC reading: On Probation Lives Can Run Far Off Track – A Maze of Fines, Court Dates and Penalties by Shaila Dewan.  The judge assumed the defendant was a problem drinker without first getting an evaluation and ordered three AA meetings a week as well as required permission for her to move.  Failure to request permission before attempting to move was the first alleged violation of probation.  The failure to provide proof of all of the required AA meetings landed her in jail for 34 days with a $5000 bond she couldn’t afford, before she saw a judge.  The judge gave her a conviction which led to a six month driver license suspension.

The article quoted Leonard R. Stamm.

For a woman of Mrs. Hall’s weight, assuming drinks were consumed over a four-hour period, the difference between 0.06, considered “neutral,” and 0.09 would have been about one glass of wine, according to Leonard R. Stamm, a Maryland defense lawyer who specializes in drunken-driving cases.

And:

Drunken-driving penalties vary widely depending on the judge, but Mr. Stamm said a typical sentence for a first offense might be a year of unsupervised probation. Most judges will offer what in Maryland is called “probation before judgment,” or P.B.J., in which a defendant’s guilty plea is set aside. If the defendant violates probation, the judge may reimpose the conviction and sentence the person under the original offense — in Mrs. Hall’s case, up to 60 days in jail. If the defendant is successful, she avoids a criminal conviction.

The article also acknowledged what breath test experts have known for years:

The officers arrested Mrs. Hall and took her to jail, where she agreed to take a breathalyzer test.  Again, she ran into trouble. She failed three times to blow hard enough into the machine. Breathalyzers can be more difficult, and less accurate, for people as short as Mrs. Hall, who is five feet tall, because they have less lung capacity than average.

If you are facing criminal or traffic charges in Maryland state or federal court, call Leonard R. Stamm of Goldstein & Stamm, P.A. at 301-345-0122 for a free consultation.

Leonard R. Stamm
Goldstein & Stamm, P.A.
6301 Ivy Lane, Suite 504
Greenbelt, MD 20770
301-345-0122
(fax) 301-441-4652
www.dwiattorneymaryland.com
www.marylandduilawyer-blog.com

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Author: 2015 update to Maryland Evidence: State and Federal by Professor Lynn McLain (coming this fall)

“Patience, Perseverance, Persuasion”

 

On Saturday, July 25, 2015, Leonard R. Stamm became the Dean of the National College for DUI Defense. At the annual summer session, held at Austin Hall at Harvard Law School (the College is not affiliated with Harvard Law School, it just rents space), before lunch, Stamm gave the Dean’s Address.  Also in attendance was Professor Alan Dershowitz, who answered questions about the future of the criminal justice system.

The three day summer session featured lectures by Larry Taylor, James Farragher Campbell, Tommy Kirk, Jim Nesci, Joe St. Louis, Mimi CoffeyPaul Homoly, Howard Nations, John Henry Hingson, Scott Joye, Bell Island and Jessica Phipps.   Breakout sessions were also held where students were able to refine their skills on opening statements and cross-examination of police officers.

If you are facing criminal or traffic charges in Maryland state or federal court, call Leonard R. Stamm of Goldstein & Stamm, P.A. at 301-345-0122 for a free consultation.

Leonard R. Stamm
Goldstein & Stamm, P.A.
6301 Ivy Lane, Suite 504
Greenbelt, MD 20770
301-345-0122
(fax) 301-441-4652
www.dwiattorneymaryland.com
http://www.marylandduilawyer-blog.com
marylandduilaw@gmail.com
Dean, National College for DUI Defense

Author: West’s Maryland DUI Law

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The Court of Appeals announced its decision in Norton v. State today.  I was privileged to have been local counsel on the amicus brief filed by the Innocence Network in this case.  The case was a win for Norton, but more importantly, it was a win for all defendants who wish to confront scientific evidence offered against them in court.

The rules governing application of the Confrontation Clause have been changing over the past few years.  A series of cases had helped to expand the ability of defendants to confront scientific evidence: Crawford v. Washington, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, and Bullcoming v. New Mexico.  These cases required the State to produce in court a chemist who actually tested a defendant’s blood in a DUI case.  I was also privileged to have helped to write the amicus brief filed in Bullcoming by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National College for DUI Defense.

Unfortunately, in Williams v. Illinois, the Supreme Court backtracked and ruled that in a DNA case, the State did not have to produce the analyst.  However, there was no majority for what became a plurality opinion of four justices.  There were also four justices in dissent.  The deciding vote was cast by Justice Thomas, who agreed with the dissenting justices with respect to their reasoning but voted to not require confrontation because the document stating what the DNA results were was not sufficiently formal.  This confusing alignment of justices brought into question what rule should be applied by the lower courts.

The use of such a rigid formality requirement meant that the least reliable statements, the ones that are unsworn and prepared with less effort, would be admitted without being confronted. Only the most reliable, sometimes sworn, and most carefully prepared statements are confronted. Being able to confront only the more reliable scientific statements turns logic on its head. As a result of the diminution in the ability to cross-examine scientific documents and processes, the risk of convicting the innocent was increased.

In Derr v. State (Derr II), the Court of Appeals adopted Justice Thomas’s reasoning even though none of the other eight justices agreed with him.  In Norton, the Court of Appeals recognized that none of the other courts looking at this question took their point of view.  They broadend the class of statements for which confrontation could be required.

Under Norton II, the Court of Appeals announced a three-part test for determining whether a statement is testimonial. First the court should consider if the statement is sufficiently formal under Justice Thomas’s definition in Williams; second, the court should consider if qualifies under Justice Alito’s opinion in Williams in that it has “the primary purpose of accusing a targeted individual;” or, third, the court can conclude the statement is sufficiently analogous to the statement held to be testimonial in Bullcoming. While this approach is certainly an improvement to the approach the court took in Derr II, in this author’s opinion, it is still too restrictive to sufficiently ensure confrontation of witnesses who should be required to testify in the State’s case-in-chief under Melendez-Diaz and Bullcoming.  It is a huge step forward though.

If you are facing criminal or traffic charges in Maryland state or federal court, call Leonard R. Stamm of Goldstein & Stamm, P.A. at 301-345-0122 for a free consultation.

Leonard R. Stamm
Goldstein & Stamm, P.A.
6301 Ivy Lane, Suite 504
Greenbelt, MD 20770
301-345-0122
(fax) 301-441-4652
www.dwiattorneymaryland.com
http://www.marylandduilawyer-blog.com
marylandduilaw@gmail.com

Author: West’s Maryland DUI Law

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In this blog, I want to weave a couple of strands of thought together here on the Fourth and Fifth of July, as I complete the 2015 update for the 8th edition of my Maryland DUI Law.

As defense lawyers, we are trained to look for the good facts in our cases, and the good traits of our clients, so that we may use the good to persuade judges and juries at trial, and judges at sentencing. What we find is that there are very few people that are all good or all bad. At the same time many of us, through one path or another, end up advocating on particular issues. The issues we may end up being most involved with are not necessarily the most noble, but with so many issues and so little time, we must pick and choose.

Two issues that I am particularly proud of having had the opportunity to argue for are Fourth Amendment issues, the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable and/or illegal searches and seizures, and the Sixth Amendment right of confrontation, guaranteeing that witnesses testifying against our clients be present in the courtroom to be cross-examined. I helped to write amicus briefs in both the Fourth Amendment case of Missouri v. McNeely, and the Sixth Amendment case of Bullcoming v. New Mexico. In McNeely, the Supreme Court held that dispensing with a warrant to obtain a blood sample in a DUI case should never be the norm. In Bullcoming, the Supreme Court held that the actual chemist who tested the defendant’s blood must be present in court for cross-examination. These are important cases, and the government and many lower court judges are doing everything they can to work around them.

Back to Justice Scalia. Justice Scalia has earned the enmity of reporters and commentators for his backward stance on many social issues. He has been the bane of liberals for many years. See Bush v. Gore. I don’t disagree with those sentiments. But two issues he has been remarkably good on, the Fourth Amendment and the Sixth Amendment. While he is no “Notorious RBG” (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) he has been a strong and consistent advocate for limiting the government’s power to invade our privacy and search, and for allowing maximum confrontation of government witnesses. He has joined and on occasion actually led the liberal wing of the court, currently the three female justices, in many cases on these issues, to name a few, the majority in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, Bullcoming v. New Mexico, and Missouri v. McNeely, and the dissenting justices in Williams v. Illinois. (Justice Breyer has deserted us on some of these).  So while Justice Scalia may not be an angel, neither is he the devil. On Fourth Amendment search and seizure issues and Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause issues, he is one of our best friends.

If you are facing criminal or traffic charges in Maryland state or federal court, call Leonard R. Stamm of Goldstein & Stamm, P.A. at 301-345-0122 for a free consultation.

Leonard R. Stamm
Goldstein & Stamm, P.A.
6301 Ivy Lane, Suite 504
Greenbelt, MD 20770
301-345-0122
(fax) 301-441-4652
www.dwiattorneymaryland.com
http://www.marylandduilawyer-blog.com
marylandduilaw@gmail.com

Author: West’s Maryland DUI Law

StammBook.jpg

 

Governor Hogan vetoed a bill that would have removed criminal penalties from possession of paraphernalia used to smoke marijuana. This legislation is needed to eliminate an inconsistency in the law because it is no longer criminal to possess under 10 grams of marijuana in Maryland. However, according to a Washington Post article, “The governor said he vetoed the marijuana legislation because it would have created uncertainty about whether individuals can smoke pot while driving.” This makes no sense at all. In Maryland it is illegal to drive while impaired by a drug if it makes the driver unable to drive safely and while under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, including marijuana. While a glance at the legislation shows that a provision specifically making it illegal to smoke marijuana while driving was deleted from the bill, the omission of that provision does not change the law on driving while impaired by drugs or while under the influence of controlled dangerous substances.
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Today, the Supreme Court released its decision and opinion in Rodriguez v. United States. This was not just a defense win. It was a win for anyone who travels in a car and may be stopped by the police for a traffic violation. The six justices in the majority were Ginsburg (who wrote the opinion), Roberts, Scalia, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer.

Rodriguez had been stopped for driving on the shoulder. After the officer had checked his license and registration, found no warrants, and wrote a warning and handed it to Rodriguez, he required Rodriguez to stay at the location for a dog sniff of his car. The dog signaled that the car had drugs and police recovered the drugs.

The problem was that the officer had no further basis to suspect Rodriguez had done anything wrong at the time he continued to detain Rodriguez for a dog sniff. The purpose of the traffic stop had been completed. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the extended detention was de minimus and not sufficient to require suppression of the evidence found.

The Supreme Court reversed. It said:

We hold that a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures. A seizure justified only by a police-observed traffic violation, therefore, “become[s] unlawful if it is prolonged beyond the time reasonably required to complete th[e] mission” of issuing a ticket for the violation.

What this means is that police can investigate other crimes during the time that it would take to write a ticket, but cannot use a search for which the police do not have articulable reasonable suspicion to extend that time. They cannot dilly dally or delay writing the ticket in order to conduct an illegal search.
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On March 4, 2015, Leonard Stamm testified in opposition to House Bill 532 which would require officers to tell suspected drunk drivers in a fatal or life threatening injury crash that they are required to submit to an alcohol test. Here is the written version of his testimony:

My name is Leonard Stamm. I have been in private practice defending persons accused of drunk driving and other crimes for over 30 years. I am currently Assistant Dean of The National College for DUI Defense, a nationwide organization with over 1300 lawyer members. I am a former president of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association. In 2014, I had the privilege of co-authoring an amicus brief filed by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and The National College for DUI Defense in the Supreme Court case of Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S. Ct. 1552, 185 L. Ed. 2d 696 (2013) . The Supreme Court held that a drunk driving arrest does not automatically create exigent circumstances that would relieve the police of their obligation to first seek a search warrant based on probable cause before compelling a driver to submit to a blood test.

For cases where the arrest occurred before April 17, 2014, the day that McNeely was decided, many courts have upheld admission of tests on the ground that where police objectively reasonably relied on a statue not yet held to be unconstitutional, that it would be on it inappropriate to apply the exclusionary rule and suppress the blood test. However, for cases where the arrest occurs after April 17, 2014, that claim of objectively reasonable reliance on an unconstitutional statute is less likely to prevail. The end result of passing the proposed amendment to § 16-205.1 could ironically be that tests showing the driver to be impaired by alcohol and/or drugs would likely be suppressed and withheld from the fact-finder.
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1. Change “reasonable grounds” in § 16-205.1 to “probable cause”

The Fourth Amendment requires articulable reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle, Whren v. U.S., 517 U.S. 806, 116 S. Ct. 1769, 135 L. Ed. 2d 89 (1996) and probable cause to effect an arrest. Hayes v. Florida, 470 U.S. 811, 105 S. Ct. 1643, 84 L. Ed. 2d 705 (1985). However, the Court of Appeals has made it clear that the Fourth Amendment does not apply in MVA hearings. Motor Vehicle Admin. v. Richards, 356 Md. 356, 739 A.2d 58 (1999).

The officer is not required to recite the basis for the stop on the sworn statement submitted to the MVA in support of a suspension. Motor Vehicle Admin. v. Lipella, 427 Md. 455, 48 A.3d 803 (2012). The driver may only prevail on the ground of a bad stop if the driver shows the officer acted in bad faith in effecting the stop. Id.; COMAR 11.11.02.10(H).

Transp. § 16-205.1 requires an officer to detain the driver and request a test if the officer has “reasonable grounds” to believe the driver is driving while impaired. In Motor Vehicle Admin. v. Shepard, 399 Md. 241, 923 A.2d 100 (2007) the Court of Appeals construed “reasonable grounds” to be the equivalent of articulable reasonable suspicion to believe the driver is impaired. Thus while the Fourth Amendment requires the officer to have probable cause before making an arrest, § 16-205.1 requires the officer to “detain,” i.e., effectively arrest the driver, with articulable reasonable suspicion. Thus the officer is given conflicting instructions, to not make and to make an arrest at the same time, if there is only articulable reasonable suspicion.

Cases after Shepard have considered various factual scenarios, each sustaining suspensions with less evidence than the previous case, lowering the evidence required to sustain a finding of “reasonable grounds” and weakening the protection against unreasonable detention encompassed within the Fourth Amendment. E.g., Motor Vehicle Admin. v. Shea, 415 Md. 1, 997 A.2d 768 (2010)(seatbelt stop, moderate odor, performed standardized field sobriety tests, but no results given); Motor Vehicle Admin. v. Sanner, 434 Md. 20, 73 A.3d 214 (2013)(strong odor of alcohol coupled with having been involved in an accident). The most recent case from the Court of Appeals on this issue, Motor Vehicle Admin. v. Spies, 436 Md. 363, 82 A.3d 179 (2013), held that if the officer claims to detect a moderate odor of an alcohol beverage, reasonable grounds exist.

The holding in Spies is contrary to holdings from other states. For example, see Saucier v. State, 869 P.2d 483 (Alaska Ct. App. 1994) (slight weaving across line, “normal” odor of alcohol beverage, admission of couple drinks, and refusal of field tests); Keehn v. Town of Torrington, 834 P.2d 112 (Wyo. 1992) (summary judgment affirmed in suit against officer for releasing defendant who subsequently killed two people); State v. Kliphouse, 771 So.2d 16 (Fla. App. 2000) (unconscious motorcyclist who did not cause accident had odor of alcohol beverage); State v. Taylor, 444 N.E.2d 481 (Oh. App. 1981) (speeding and odor of alcohol beverage); People v. Royball, 655 P.2d 410 (Colo. 1982) (odor of alcohol alone, accident without fault established); but see, State v. Gillenwater, 980 P.2d 318 (Wash. App. 1999) (fatal accident, driver not at fault, odor of alcoholic beverage on both motorist and deceased passenger, three opened beer cans).

The Ohio Court of Appeals, in State v. Taylor, 444 N.E.2d 481 (Ohio Ct. App. 1981) stated:

The mere odor of alcohol about a driver’s person, not even characterized by such customary adjectives as “pervasive” or “strong,” may be indicia of alcohol ingestion, but is no more a probable indication of intoxication than eating a meal is of gluttony. For better or worse, the law prohibits drunken driving, not driving after a drink.

Id. at 482.

In City of Hutchinson v. Davenport, 54 P.3d 532 (Kan. App. 2002), the Kansas Court of Appeals held that the odor of an alcoholic beverage on the defendant’s breath, without any other evidence was insufficient to support the stop of the defendant’s vehicle. In that case the defendant drove to a local jail to secure bond for a friend who had been arrested. When he left a police officer, who detected the odor of an alcohol beverage on the defendant’s breath, advised him not to drive and the defendant agreed. Not long afterward, the same officer saw the defendant driving his vehicle and stopped him.

The court stated:

Even with the lesser requirements of the reasonable suspicion standard, the trial court properly determined that there were no articulable facts which create a suspicion that Davenport was driving while under the influence or was involved in any other criminal activity. Even if we combine the knowledge of Henderson and Miller, the only facts suggestive of unusual conduct are that Davenport had alcohol on his breath and that he stated he was walking. Neither of these facts by themselves or together create a reasonable suspicion that justified Miller stopping Davenport in the absence of some indication that he was intoxicated and too impaired to drive.
The City cites many cases to bolster its argument that the stop was proper. In each situation where the court found the stop to be proper, however, there were some facts which indicated that the defendant had engaged in some illegal activity prior to being stopped. Here, no such facts exist. Alcohol on one’s breath alone does not provide a reasonable suspicion to support a stop, nor does the statement by Davenport that he was walking.

Davenport, 54 P.3d at 535.

A chief danger of the lower standard and eased application of that standard is that a number of drivers who are not impaired will be stopped and detained, and as a result of reasons that may be consistent with innocence will refuse to submit to a breath test and will face license suspension and/or ignition interlock. In counsel’s experience, people refuse for a myriad of reasons, including, but not limited to, misunderstanding the advice of sanctions provided by the police or being improperly induced by the officer to refuse the test. This was recognized by the Maryland State Bar Association Criminal Pattern Jury Instruction Committee in the jury instruction for refusal which states:

MPJI-Cr 4:10.5
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Driving While Impaired by Alcohol — Effect of Refusal to Submit to Blood or Breath Test

You have heard evidence that the defendant refused to submit to a test to determine [his] [her] [alcohol level] [the presence of drugs or a controlled dangerous substance]. You must first decide whether the defendant refused to submit to a test. If you find that the defendant refused to submit to a test, you must then decide whether this refusal is evidence of guilt. Refusal to submit to a test may be based on reasons that are consistent with innocence or other reasons that are consistent with guilt. In order to decide whether the defendant refused to submit to a test and what, if any, weight to give the refusal, you should consider all of the evidence in the case.

If § 16-205.1 were amended to replace the phrase “reasonable grounds” with “probable cause” in every location where it appears, the obligations imposed on police officers and protections available to drivers would be the same as is provided by the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, the danger that innocent drivers will be swept up in the broad drunk driving dragnet would be reduced.
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Last week the Supreme Court decided the case of Heien v. North Carolina. In an 8-1 decision, the Court decided that even though an officer stopped a driver for conduct that was later decided NOT to be illegal, that the officer’s objectively reasonable belief that the conduct was illegal saved the stop from violating the Fourth Amendment. Surprisingly, some of the justices that can usually be counted on to protect the privacy rights of Americans, namely Justices Scalia (yes he is one of the better ones on Fourth Amendment issues), Ginsburg, Kagan, and, frequently Kennedy, failed to do so in this case. Only Justice Sotomayor dissented from the decision in Heien.

The Heien case dealt with what I will call the two versus three brake light issue. Many states enacted laws requiring two brake lights on cars and also laws requiring all equipment on a car to be working. The two brake light laws were enacted at a time when cars only had two brake lights. Since the enactment of these laws, many cars have been made with three brake lights. As is not uncommon, in many states the law has lagged behind technology. In those states, there has been a legitimate debate about whether a car with three brake lights, and one out, was in violation of the law.

In Heien, the officer stopped a car with three brake lights, and one out. Drugs were found in the car, which is why Heien challenged the stop. The trial court denied his motion to suppress and Heien appealed. Subsequently, the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that two working brake lights were all that was required and reversed. (Maryland requires three). The North Carolina Supreme Court reversed and upheld the conviction, even though the State did not challenge the intermediate court’s ruling on the brake light law. So Heien appealed to the Supreme Court.

One might have thought that when the North Carolina intermediate appellate court ruled that Heine’s vehicle was not in violation of North Carolina law, and that the ruling was not challenged, that it’s conclusion that the stop was illegal would have been upheld, even though the quesstion was debatable at the time the officer stopped Heien. However, the Supreme Court ultimately held that because the officer’s belief that Heien’s vehicle was violating North Carolina law although wrong was objectively reasonable, the stop did not violate the Fourth Amendment. It is important to note that the Court did not say in Heien, as it has said in some cases, that although the officer violated the Fourth Amendment that the exclusionary rule should not apply where a statute or court decision requires the officer to act in a way that is later held to violate the Fourth Amendment. In Heien, the Court held that the officer’s stop did not violate the Fourth Amendment.

The decision is troubling for a number of reasons. One is that frequently high court decisions get watered down or misunderstood by officers, prosecutors, and lower courts resulting in an overall diminution of our Fourth Amendment freedoms, and hence an increase in the number of times drivers observably violating no law will be stopped and detained by police, and the stops will later be upheld by courts. In the past, an officer could not rely on unsettled legal issues to avoid the application of the exclusionary rule to a search and/or seizure. As Justice Sotomayor points out, there is not really any support in prior cases for rewarding an officer’s mistake of law. And there is little incentive for courts to resolve questions of law if they only need to decide if the officer’s belief that the law was violated was “objectively reasonable.”
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Leonard Stamm has been featured in the “Member in the Spotlight” blog of the National College for DUI Defense. It is reprinted in its entirety below:

Member in the Spotlight: Lenny Stamm

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This week’s Member in the Spotlight is Lenny Stamm of Greenbelt, Maryland. Lenny grew up in New Rochelle, New York. For four years he started as a goalie on the high school soccer team. Funny how life takes twists and turns, he was selected for the Program for Inquiry, Involvement and Independent Study (a gifted “school without walls” program) in which they made a visit to the United States Supreme Court barely arriving after it had just recessed only to return years later as the coauthor of some of the nation’s most important DWI case briefs: Missouri v. McNeely, Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, Bullcoming v. New Mexico. This gifted kid from New York grew up to become Maryland’s most respected DWI/DUI lawyer earning the first annual Fred Bennett Zealous Advocacy Award by the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association (MCDAA). In October of this year, he was awarded the prestigious Legal Excellence Award for Advancement of Professional Competence by the Maryland Bar Foundation. For 12 years straight, he started and has put on the annual Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association’s Advanced DUI Defense Seminar, giving back to the Maryland bar and elevating its knowledge and practice level. The defense bar of Maryland is top rate and we can thank Lenny Stamm for his esteemed contributions. He also wrote the book. He is on his 8th volume of Maryland DUI Law.

So what peaked Lenny’s interest in the law? A dream come true. Lenny’s father was going to NYU night law school in 1955 but had to quit shortly after Lenny’s birth that year. Little did he know that bundle of joy would fulfill his dreams and then some. Lenny earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University and ventured out on an interesting and rich path of varied life experiences before his dad suggested law school. Can Lenny relate to all people? You bet. Lenny has done everything from Olan Mills Photography phone solicitation, driving a daycare van and a taxi cab, cutting grass, selling chiropractic food supplements, being an insurance underwriter and assistant record buyer to playing guitar full-time in a rock band. Following his father’s advice, Lenny graduated from the Catholic University Law School in Washington D.C. He interned for the DC Office of Consumer Protection, Maryland Court of Appeals Judge Rita Davidson, Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Howard Chasanow and obtained a law clerkship with Horowitz, Oneglia, Goldstein, Foran and Parker to later work for and then partner with Alan Goldstein. They were involved in many high profile cases before Alan passed away with Lenny taking over the practice. Among these was the case of Lenny Bias, who died of a cocaine overdose shortly after his number one NBA draft pick by the Boston Celtics. Not too many people can say they literally dodged the bullet. Lucky for everyone and especially the legal community, Lenny survived a robbery shooting as he was walking the streets of DC in law school on a beer run. The bullet grazed a nerve and lodged in his neck. A 9 month pregnant woman witnessing the spectacle stopped her car and convinced Lenny to stop running after the shooter- still bleeding as he climbed in the back seat. In the high speed dash to the hospital, wouldn’t you know they were stopped and the officer could not believe what was on his hands! Lenny was able to ID the shooter from a hospital gurney and the doctor mentioned it was just like Gunsmoke as he dropped the dislodged bullet in the pan! What does Lenny say about the experience looking back? “Life is precious and short, and we shouldn’t take it for granted. Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

So often the “stuff” that matters is the toil, sweat and tears that are given with no remuneration. Lenny is a giver. He is a member of the National College for DUI Defense (General member 1999-2004), (Sustaining member 2004-05), (Regent since 2005 and current assistant Dean). He is also a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a member of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Association, a member of the Maryland Criminal Pattern Jury Instruction Committee, a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, a member of Prince George’s County Bar Association, a member of the Montgomery County Bar Association, and a member of the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International. Lenny is a frequent national speaker on DWI law and science by demand across the country and is very active and passionate about public defender training. In addition to his Maryland DUI textbook, he has published a number of articles in the Champion magazine (the magazine of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers).

Lenny’s DUI/DWI training goes without mention. He has received training on the overview of the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program, National Highway Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) standardized field sobriety testing as both a practitioner and instructor, instruction on operation and maintenance for the Intoxilyzer 5000, and has attended the famed Borkenstein School for state experts as well as a 4 and half day course on gas chromatography.

In addition to the previously mentioned awards, Lenny has received the highest rating from Martindale-Hubbell – “AV Preeminent.” He has also been listed in “Super Lawyers” and “Best Lawyers.” Best Lawyer awarded Stamm “Lawyer of the Year” for 2015 in the area of DUI/DWI defense in the Washington, D.C. area. Because of his commitment to advocating for his clients, he also received the highest Avvo rating of a 10, which is considered “Superb.”

You would think that Lenny spends all his time in his ivory tower of law to accomplish all that he does. However, his life outside the office is just as intense! In his free time Lenny is a guitar player in a blues and classic rock band that was formed in 1981. They are known as The Crimestoppers (www.thecrimestoppers.com). Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist Nils Lofgren has even dropped by to play with them on set. Lenny met his wife Susan, of 30 years, through the keyboard player’s girlfriend. Lenny enjoys running, and in classic Lenny style has taken it to the max finishing 5 marathons so far. He and Susan have 2 wonderful children: Michael who is a first year at Georgetown Law School, and Lauren who just graduated from Vassar.

Lenny can be described by those who know him as the embodiment of tolerance, open heartedness, and acceptance: all the traits of a true intellectual without even a hint of a character flaw. There are so many stories among our members of how when it got to the big leagues, the Supreme Court, Lenny was there to selflessly help and pave the path like no other. The National College is strong with Lenny Stamm at the helm and he guides the ship with a sound and steady hand and heart of wisdom and magnanimity for all. We at NCDD thank you Lenny for all you do and only wish one of these Presidents would see fit to put you on the Supreme Court! It would be most deserved.

In the wake of numerous pay for certificate specious “top lawyer” organizations and the unfortunate field of lawyer animosity resulting from an oversaturated market, Lenny lives up to the principles of William J.H. Boetcker. “Your greatness is measured by your kindness; your education and intellect by your modesty; your ignorance is betrayed by your suspicions and prejudices, and your real caliber is measured by the consideration and tolerance you have for others.” Lenny never stoops to ignorance filled with suspicions and prejudices, he is always the classy advocate, wise teacher, and leader with welcome tolerance and encouragement for all. On behalf of all of us at NCDD, thank you Lenny. You are a true hero.
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