by Jamison Koehler on January 29, 2015

My client’s grandmother stands next to me at the bar of the court.  She complains to me about the probation officer, about the education attorney, about the prosecutor, and about the judge.  I am sure that when I am not there, she is complaining about me too.

The entire system has failed her grandson.

My client is a sweet, respectful young man.  With a grandmother like this, he doesn’t stand a chance.


Police Officer as Expert at DMV Hearing

by Jamison Koehler on January 26, 2015

Q:  You are certified to administer the standardized field sobriety tests?

A:  Yes.

Q:  So you are familiar with the science behind the standardized field sobriety tests?

A:  Yes.

Q:  And you are aware that the tests have never been peer-reviewed?

A:  Um.  I was not aware –

HEARING EXAMINER:  What is the relevance of this?

A:  That’s –

HEARING EXAMINER:  — No, no, no.   Counselor.  What’s the relevance of this for an administrative hearing?

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  The accuracy of those tests is completely relevant to this hearing.

HEARING EXAMINER:  The accuracy of what tests?

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  The standardized field sobriety tests.  You want to know if my client was impaired that night.  The tests are designed to measure that.  And yet the accuracy of those tests has never been peer-reviewed.  That is relevant.  That is an issue that –

HEARING EXAMINER:  –But that is not an issue that this tribunal can address.  This is an administrative hearing as to whether her D.C. license will be revoked.  Our determination is whether your client was impaired at the time she was operating a motor vehicle.  Now if you say the tests are faulty –

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  Yes.  That’s exactly what I am saying.

HEARING EXAMINER:  I will tell you right now, I do not, unless you have an expert here to testify as it relates to the field sobriety tests, unless you can provide that testimony through an expert –

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  — I have an expert right here –

HEARING EXAMINER:  — I cannot allow that line of questioning.

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  Let me try –

HEARING EXAMINER:  Because you are trying to get the officer to say that the tests are not peer-reviewed.  What does that mean? What does that mean to the officer?

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  I don’t care what it means to the officer.  What matters is what it means to you.

HEARING EXAMINER:  Right.  And so the officer says it wasn’t peer-reviewed, how do you refute that if you don’t have an expert?

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  I have an expert.  Right here.  The officer is an expert.  He has been certified multiple times in the administration of the test.  Otherwise he wouldn’t be qualified to testify.

HEARING EXAMINER:  No, no.  Where is your expert?  He is the government’s expert.

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  And now he is my expert.

HEARING EXAMINER:  Counselor.  Move on.

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  Madam Examiner –

HEARING EXAMINER:  Counselor.  I said move on.

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Refreshing Recollection at a DMV Hearing

January 22, 2015 DUI and Driving Offenses

DEFENSE COUNSEL:  Objection. HEARING EXAMINER:  Basis? DEFENSE COUNSEL:  I would ask that the officer testify from memory and not read from his report. HEARING EXAMINER:  Officer, are you testifying from memory or are you using the report to refresh your recollection? OFFICER:  I am using the report for recollection. HEARING EXAMINER:  Okay.  And are you […]

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On the Criminal Defense Attorney Who “Knows” all the Prosecutors

January 19, 2015 D.C. Superior Court

“I can get you a good deal because I know all the prosecutors.” This is what one of my competitors says to a potential client.  I know this because the client tells me.  She wants to know if I can get the same results for her. There are three things wrong with this statement. First, […]

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On the Satisfaction of Doing Criminal Appeals

January 10, 2015 Appellate Practice

During the second semester of my senior year in college, I submitted a paper for my English class that was three-quarters of a page long. It was my last assignment for a class I was taking pass/fail and I already knew I was going to pass. But I had to turn in something — anything […]

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Amherst, Massachusetts

January 4, 2015 Miscellaneous

A Poem by Emma Brush Z – Here lies my grandfather, whom (this is important) you have never met.  He once called a boy “unnaturally tall,” and I’m sure he would have said the same about you.   But then again, I have sat at his desks – they are a many – and he […]

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Everything is Calm. Everything is Civilized.

December 11, 2014 Juveniles

The two young men have been in the same place at the same time before.  I have seen it on the video recording. The first meeting – captured by a surveillance camera at the back of a D.C. metro bus — – involved a violent altercation in which they exchanged blows.  The kid getting the […]

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When it Comes To Self-Defense, it is the Immediacy of the Response Needed, Not the Immediacy of the Threat

December 7, 2014 Defenses to Criminal Charges

Words in the law do not always mean what their dictionary definitions say they mean. With respect to a prior consistent statement, for example, it is not really, as suggested by the rule, that such a statement must be offered to rebut a charge of “recent fabrication.”  Instead, it is “only that the alleged contrivance […]

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James Colt is Superman

December 3, 2014 D.C. Superior Court

I am a fan of D.C. criminal defense attorney James Colt.  It is not only his name, which sounds like it was pulled from a Harlequin romance.  It is also that he is a pleasant guy and, from what I can tell, a very good lawyer. Now there is this:  I am standing by the […]

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ABA Blawg 100 for 2014

December 2, 2014 Criminal Law Bloggers

The ABA Journal has again issued its list of the top 100 legal blogs, this time for 2014, and I was honored to have my blog included once again. The Journal is now accepting votes for the top blog in each of 13 different categories. Over at Defrosting Cold Cases, Alice de Sturler says that […]

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