Articles Posted in Drug Recognition Experts

The National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) just wrapped up their annual Las Vegas seminar.  As usual, it was well attended and the presentations were very informative.

The conference featured presentations on Thursday, September 22, on cross-examination by Jim Nesci; accident reconstruction by Steven M. Schoor; succeeding without an expert by Tommy Kirk; and, the psychology of winning by Allen Fox, Ph.D.  The conference continued on Friday, September 23 with presentations on case law update by Don Ramsell; NHTSA’s ARIDE program (Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement) by Tony Palacios; preparing for direct and cross of experts by Virginia Landry; ethics by Jim Nesci and nine other regents; gas chromatography for jurors by Suzanne Perry, M.Sc.; closing arguments by Joe St. Louis and Tommy Kirk; field sobriety test facts and fallacies by Tony Palacios; and, prescription medication issues by Fran Gengo, Pharm. D., Ph. D.  The conference concluded today with presentations on closing argument by Tommy Kirk; cross of the standardized field sobriety tests by John Hunsucker (for attorneys with 1-5 years experience) and by Don Ramsell (for attorneys with over 5 years experience); analyzing a DRE facesheet and narrative report by Steven Oberman and Tony Palacios; breath testing by Jim Nesci; defending the impaired marijuana case by George Bianchi; and, how to try your first DUI case by John Hunsucker.

The Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis has published allegations that as part of a program training police officers to become Drug Recognition Experts, officers gave Occupy Wall Street protesters marijuana. “Trooper put on leave as probe of drug-training tactics widens.” This has resulted in the suspension of the DRE program and investigation of a number of police officers. “Minnesota police giving Peavey Plaza Occupy-ers drugs as part of impairment study, report says [VIDEO].”
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On March 5, 2012, the Circuit Court for Carroll County, Maryland released its opinion in the case of State v. Brightful, et al., granting the defendants’ pre-trial motions to exclude the opinion of a drug recognition expert (DRE) in each of the consolidated cases. The case was litigated by defense attorneys Brian DeLeonardo and Alex Cruikshank. The court heard 10 days of expert testimony from both sides between September, 2010 and February, 2011. The State presented six expert witnesses: Dr. Karl Citek, Ms. Michelle Spirk, Mr. William Tower III, Officer William Morrison, Lt. Thomas Woodward and Dr. Zenon Zuk. The defendants called three experts: Dr. Francis Gengo, Dr. Neal Adams, and Dr. Jeffrey Janofsky. The court concluded that the DRE program is not generally accepted within the relevant scientific communities and that therefore would be excluded under the cases of Frye v. United States and the Maryland case of Reed v. State, as well as under Maryland Rule 702.

Specifically, the court said:

Findings of Fact

The DRE Protocol fails to produce an accurate and reliable determination of whether a suspect is impaired by drugs and. by what specific drug he is impaired. The DRE training police officers receive does not enable DREs to accurately observe the signs and symptoms of drug impairment, therefore, police officers are not able to reach accurate and reliable conclusions regarding what drug may be causing impairment.

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