A recent important case has set the tone for other, future DUI cases in Michigan after a Lansing district court judge threw out a guilty verdict because the prosecutor didn’t disclose information that might have helped the defendant. This is called exculpatory evidence. It all started back in November of 2018, when 43-year-old Patrick Reynolds of Grand Rapids hit a pole with his car near an intersection in Lansing, Michigan. It was about 2 am, and he had just left the bar and was driving home when he lost control of his vehicle and struck the pole in Ingham County.
Lansing Police Department tried four times to breath test him before getting results
Lansing police officers who arrived at the scene tried three times unsuccessfully to breath test Reynolds before getting the result they wanted. On the fourth try, the BAC reading came back as 0.176 which is considerably higher than Michigan’s legal limit of 0.08. Why, you may wonder, did they have to try so many times before getting the result they wanted. According to court documents, Reynold’s defense attorney later discovered that the first three ‘misfires’ were due to instrument malfunctions.’ But that exculpatory evidence wasn’t shared with his criminal defense attorney before trial.
Michigan State Police say it’s not their practice to share that data with the defense.
When Reynold’s defense attorney discovered the instrument malfunctions, he pointed out that his client should have been alerted to the fact that the cops had tried repeatedly before getting a reading on their roadside breath test machine. However, Nicholas Fillinger, the toxicology technical leader at MSP’s Forensic Science Division says it isn’t the Michigan State Police Department’s standard practice for them to reveal that information. But should it be? Ingham County District Court Judge Stacia Buchanan says yes! Judge Buchanan’s decision is not binding on other judges in Michigan because the Michigan Court of Appeals decides whether to make a ruling binding on other judges in Michigan.
Reynolds pled guilty and served time, but the case got tossed!
Reynolds was convicted of Operating While Intoxicated back in May of 2019. He was sentenced to six months of probation, and 90 days with a restricted license which only allowed him to drive to and from work, and his court-ordered Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. In order to get his license back Reynolds would have been required to install an ignition interlock device at his own expense, which he says he could not have afforded. But then Judge Buchanan stepped in.
The MSP forensic lab has some explaining to do…
After an evidentiary hearing that lasted several days, and addressed testing irregularities at the MSP forensics lab, Judge Buchanan tossed Reynolds’ case. According to Buchanan, she sees the violation as a Brady violation, which is named after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which says that prosecutors have a duty to disclose any evidence that may be favorable to criminal defendants. Brady violations happen when:
1) evidence is or might be favorable to the criminal defendant;
2) the evidence is either willfully or inadvertently withheld by the prosecution; and
3) the withholding of the evidence is prejudicial to the defendant.
A good DUI defense attorney can make a world of difference!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – having an aggressive and experienced DUI defense attorney can make a world of difference to your drunk driving case. By keeping your mouth shut from the earliest interaction with the cops, and making sure you call us at 866 766 5245 as soon as you’re allowed that phone call, you can ensure that your case will have the best outcome in the end. So if you’ve been pulled over and arrested for drunk or drugged driving in Lansing, Tuscola, Jackson or Hastings, call our top drunk driving attorneys at 866 7NoJail.