The Thin Blue Line Exception

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on February 21st, 2008

Just the most recent example of the double standard applied when cops, prosecutors or judges are busted by honest officers for drunk driving:


Officer Found Not Guilty of OUI Charge

Northborough, MA.  Feb. 19  –  A judge has cleared a town police officer of drunken driving after throwing out his blood alcohol reading because it was taken at the hospital without his consent.

Earlier this month James Scesny, 38, of Clinton, was found not guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol and not responsible for a charge of marked lanes violation by Fitchburg District Court Judge Andrew Mandell.

The charges stemmed from a May 2007 accident in Clinton in which Scesny and his girlfriend were injured when the car he was driving struck a telephone pole.

The case was headed toward a jury trial, but at a Feb. 1 hearing Scesny's attorney, Michael Erlich, requested a bench trial. Two weeks earlier, a Clinton District Court judge allowed Erlich's motion to keep the blood alcohol test out of the trial.

Two blood samples taken by Clinton Hospital staff were tested by the Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab and both found a 0.168 blood alcohol level, according to a crime lab document in the court file.

Erlich argued that police took the samples without his client's permission, and that authorities did not follow proper chain of custody protocol before sending them samples to the crime lab.

Erlich said his client refused to be tested when asked by three Clinton Police officers at the hospital.

 


So the drunk driving case was thrown out because…there was no breath test?  Hmmm…so what do they do in roughly 25% of DUI arrests where the suspect refuses to take a breath test?  Just let him go?  Oh, right, they charge him with drunk driving anyway — and prosecute based on evidence such as witnesses, driving symptoms (weaving, accidents), personal symptoms (slurred speed, bloodshot eyes), field sobriety tests, incriminating statements and the arresting officer's opinion….Unless the guy's a cop.


(Thanks to Andre Campos)

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  • donleedon

    This is absolutely disgusting! It’s a real wonder they even were cited as this happens all the time here in AR, but they are let go with out a citation (so no one ever sees the news story). I also know of a few people that befriended officers that are let go as well. When I was waiting to do my breathalyser, there were cops talking about how they hoped they didn’t get caught later that night when they were going out drinking after the Superbowl and the one of the other cops said “You will be fine, just take your badge”. In front of a suspect of the same “crime” they had just picked up! I believe that drunk driving should be stopped, but I also believe that BAC levels are too low and police are having to focus on social drinkers as well as police should be held to the same standard as every one else.

  • Keeyter

    This is absurd, in one of your previously articles you go on about the constitutionality of forced blood draws and now when the very thing you fight for benefits a Police Officer, it must be a conspiracy. How many lawyers have been in hallway trials and benefited. This is hipocracy, I can not accept that you fight for one thing but don’t accept its application to the Police. Shame on you.

  • SoberDissident

    Keetyer- The point isn’t that there was a forced blood draw, it’s that the case was simply thrown out. The system allows for prosecution of the DUI offense with, or without breath or blood evidence. The question here is, why wasn’t the cop charged with a DUI anyway on the basis of implied consent laws? If the courts view a refusal to be tested as a violation of implied consent, and thus an admission of guilt, then why was this case thrown out?

  • http://www.duiblog.com Lawrence Taylor

    Keeyter, you have missed the point entirely….It may well be that the blood test should have been thrown out. But why were charges then dropped? When there is no breath/blood test, either because of suppression or a refusal to take the test, this does not normally result in charges being dropped. Charges are still filed and the defendant prosecuted for drunk driving based on the other evidence I mentioned.

  • Nelson Donnell

    It would appear that some people become incensed when a lawyer points out the double standards that are applied when the “government system” passes judgment on one of their own.

    Do people actually think this judge would have ruled in favor of this person if he wasn’t a 15 year member of the Northborough Police?

    I kind of doubt that this judge would have ruled this way if this defendant was just an average Joe out there on the streets. Police organizations have a lot of political pull and they know where various “skeletons” are buried in their respective jurisdictions.

  • standup

    We sure don’t want a police officer to have to learn first hand how crazy these DUI laws have become, now do we ?
    Because the next time he or one of his friends has a borderline DUI case,they’ll probably cut them a break instead of arresting them. Fewer DUI arrests equals less money for MADD, so simple, even a caveman can figure it out.

  • jim

    how does madd get money from dui?

    i think in this case, the fact is, any good attorney would have gotten the case dismissed or at least reduced to reckless, with the breath or blood test being thrown out on merit, wheather it was a police officer or anyone else.

    once the bac is thrown out of a dui case, it doesnt matter who the defendant is, … any good attorney can win the case i think,…. and maybe not on justice, but on the shere facts courts cant spend time having trials anymore, its just that simple.’

    i have been waiting 30 months for a simple dui trial here in nj, 13 appearances, a nj supreme court order ordering thje case to proceed to trial in jan of 2006, and still, the state refuses to trial me, and the judge keeps ordering me into court to have a trial.
    there is something wrong here.

    isnt it plain to see?

  • standup

    I’d get a different lawyer Jim …

    ( He’s dead Jim, you get his tri-corder, I’ll get his wallet )

  • standup

    It’s a shame that the RIDL site is down right now Jim. There are some pretty sharp people over on their forums my friend. In the meantime perhaps, you could have one of your “friends” contact MADD of N.J.
    This concerned citizen could tell MADD about an agent of Satan ( Someone who drinks ) That has not been brought to trial yet (Wink-Wink)
    Let them do your dirty work.