Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Opening Statement for a Rx drug DUI

You can click on this link to watch the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIkM9yVDnRQ

The above link is for an Opening Statement on a prescription drug DUI case.  This is a case where my client was accused of mixing narcotic prescription drugs and driving.  These cases are tricky because they usually get complicated and involve more evidence than a normal alcohol DUI.  For example, you may need to deal with toxicology results, testimony from KSP lab technicians, toxicologists, treating physicians, and medical records from diagnostic tests.  All of these were involved in this particular DUI case.

This is why I love doing DUI cases - every one is different. There's always a new, fun twist.  

Here's my advice (take it or leave it) for Rx drug openings:

1) Right off the bat, you need to highlight the fact that there is no alcohol in the client's system and no illegal drugs.  Repeat this a time or two during the trial and in a closing statement.  

2) If your drugs are in Therapeutic Range, say it slowly, repeat it, and explain what that means in language that sounds favorable to your client.  When jurors hear that this means your client took their medication in a way that was prescribed to them, and tends to show they aren't abusing medication, jurors remember that kind of thing.  And most jurors (especially those on medications) are hesitant to find someone guilty for DUI even if they took their medicine as prescribed - even if they believe the person might have been impaired. 

3) Own the bad facts.  In this case, my client was all over the road and the driving was extremely dangerous.  He came to rest across 2 lanes of traffic.  Obviously that's not good for me.  But I made it good for us by pointing out how odd this is for a DUI.  Normal intoxicated driving isn't that bad - which opens the door for consideration of another medical event.  Also, their expert says he was intoxicated.  You need to frame the issue on something like that.  Tell the jury what to look for - "Ask yourself whether Dr. Davis looked at any of my client's medical history or pharmalogical history."  I know the answer to that question and I know it's good for my client.

4) Own the good facts.  Fortunately for me, my client was actually not guilty.  He had an abnormal EEG after the arrest that showed a brain injury from either stroke, anticholinergic crisis, seizure, or some other medical event.  And he's on the same medications every day without an incident.  All of this really sets the tone for a Not Guilty verdict. 

The jury ended up making the right call in this case and returned a verdict of Not Guilty.  They took about 7 minutes to deliberate.

Anyway, I hope this is at least entertaining - and if you're an attorney, I hope this helps prepare you for a Rx drug DUI opening.

For any questions on Rx DUI cases, feel free to call me at 502.618.4949.

1 comment:

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