Month: June 2012

New Ruling: Intoxilyzer Admissible in Minnesota Courts

The Minnesota Supreme Court just released its decision on whether DWI breath-testing results are valid. In a split 4-3 decision, the court upheld their reliability, agreeing that while the source code for the Intoxilyzer 5000EN may contain some errors, its accuracy is not affected.

Associate Justice Alan Page wrote a dissenting opinion, arguing the decision “effectively eliminates the accused’s opportunity to challenge the results” of Intoxilyzer results.

According to FOX 9 about 4,000 to 6,000 cases were awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling, and can now return to their respective counties for proceedings.

SUMMARY OF SUPREME COURT RULING

  1. The district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied appellants’ motion to exclude all test results produced by the Intoxilyzer 5000EN in their individual trials or hearings because, at an evidentiary hearing held in accordance with Minn. R. Evid. 104, the government established by a preponderance of the evidence that Intoxilyzer 5000EN instruments that report a numerical value for measured breath alcohol are reliable and unaffected by alleged source code errors.
  2. The district court did not violate appellants’ due process and fair trial rights when it made a pretrial determination that evidence relating to the source code defects alleged at the evidentiary hearing would not be allowed in their individual trials or hearings if the Intoxilyzer 5000EN instrument reported a numerical value for measured breath alcohol.
  3. The district court did not abuse its discretion when, in accordance with Minn. R. Evid. 104, it made a pretrial determination that Intoxilyzer 5000EN instruments that report a deficient breath sample while running the 75-0240 version of the source code are unreliable unless there is other evidence or observations that demonstrate the deficient sample was not the result of a source code error.

DWI defense attorneys had challenged the accuracy of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN tests stating its technology is out of date. The Minnesota BCA stood behind the Intoxilyzer’s accuracy, but some police agencies have since moved toward blood and urine tests instead of breath tests.

Last year, District Court Judge Jerome Abrams ruled its results “are reliable and unaffected by actual or alleged problems with the source code of the instrument.”

The lower court did rule, however, that cases in which the Intoxilyzer 5000EN running the 240 software version reported a deficient sample, the source code does impact the reliability of the result. Evidence in such cases should also not be allowed unless other evidence exists providing reasons of testing that support a deficient sample.

The deficient sample issue affected fewer than one percent of the tests.

If you are cited or arrested remember you can always contact the Flanagan Law Office, in Hugo, Minnesota, to speak with an experienced attorney about your situation and to learn more information about your rights.

You can call our office anytime: (651) 200-3484.

 

Police Warn Boaters: Don’t drink and drive!

Police officers from the twin cities told WCCO they’ll be watching boaters this weekend before July 4th to the send this stern message – they will not tolerate anyone boating under the influence!

Officers say they’ll look for boaters whose blood alcohol content is at or over the .08 limit. However, some people won’t even realize they’ve hit the limit until it’s too late.

Captain Greg Salo said gradual drinking can get boaters in the most trouble.

“It’s far worse to start off slow and go all day long consuming alcohol, you may not think you are consuming much, but it builds up in your body, and that’s where people really get into trouble,” said Salo.

In half of the 16 boating deaths last year in Minnesota, alcohol played a factor in half of them. One of the more heavily patrolled lakes is Lake Minnetonka.

Captain Greg Salo also says drinking can be deadly for people who aren’t driving the boat. “We see a big problem with alcohol and drownings, people forget to wear their life jackets or think they can do more than they can.”

If you happen to find yourself in trouble this weekend you can always contact the Flanagan Law Office anytime to speak with an experienced attorney: (651) 200-3484.

Have a safe holiday weekend!

Supreme Court: No more mandatory life sentences for juveniles

Today, a deeply divided Supreme Court struck down mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole in two cases involving 14-year-olds convicted of homicide, the third in a series of decisions finding that tough sentences for juveniles violate the Constitution’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments.”

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority in the 5-4 opinion, said that prior high-court rulings “make clear that a judge or jury must have the opportunity to consider mitigating circumstances before imposing the harshest possible penalty for juveniles,” those under the age of 18.

Justice Kagan said the sentences were unconstitutional because state laws mandated that each juvenile defendant “die in prison even if a judge or a jury would have thought that his youth and its attendant characteristics, along with the nature of his crime, made a lesser sentence … more appropriate.”

The court was considering two cases, from Alabama and Arkansas.

The ruling follows the court’s 2005 decision in Roper v. Simmons that declared juvenile executions a violation of the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. In a 2010 ruling, the court held it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles convicted of crimes other than homicide to life without possibility of parole.

Joining Justice Kagan’s opinion were Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the two earlier opinions, and liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

The court’s four most conservative justices — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — dissented from the ruling. They said decisions about the appropriate prison sentences for teenage murderers should be made by lawmakers, not by the courts.

“Perhaps science and policy suggest society should show greater mercy to young killers, giving them a greater chance to reform themselves at the risk that they will kill again,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “But that is not our decision to make.”

Source: Fox 9 – KMSP

Vikings Fullback Arrested on DWI Charge

Vikings fullback Jerome Felton is expected to appear at the Ridgedale Courthouse in Minnetonka on July 18, after he was arrested on a suspicion of driving while impaired charge. He was released from Hennepin County Jail on Saturday, June 2, on $12,000 bond.

Eden Prairie police booked Felton, 25, at 5:51 a.m. Saturday after responding to a call from a McDonald’s stating that a driver was intoxicated in the drive-thru lane. Felton refused to take a chemical test, which qualifies as a second-degree gross misdemeanor.

Jerome Jean-Marie Felton, Minnesota Vikings FB. (Courtesy: Hennepin County Sheriff)

Felton was signed to a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Vikings in March. A fifth-round draft pick by Detroit in 2008, Felton is looking to find a consistent role in the NFL after part-time stints with Carolina and Indianapolis in 2011. The Lions released him last August.

Felton is the third Vikings player in the past 10 months to be arrested for DWI. Quarterback Rhett Bomar was arrested in August, followed by safety Tyrell Johnson in September. Johnson signed with Miami as a free agent this offseason, and Bomar was released during training camp.

According to an “NFL arrests database” compiled by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Vikings players have accounted for five of the 32 arrests or citations around the league since August.

The Vikings have had eight arrests since January 2011, including two apiece from cornerback Chris Cook (brandishing a firearm in March 2011, felony domestic battery in October) and defensive end Everson Griffen (public intoxication, felony battery of a police officer — both in January 2011).

Cook was acquitted on both counts, and Griffen pleaded guilty to the charges in December and received probation.

In December, cornerback Benny Sapp was cited for misdemeanor assault and careless driving — but was not arrested — after allegedly chest-bumping a security guard at a hospital. Sapp is a free agent.

In April, running back Caleb King was arrested on felony assault charges after allegedly causing severe head trauma to a victim outside of a party. King was released by the team.