Friday, June 15, 2007

Jury Duty Done!

Here is the case I sat on during my jury duty experience this week.

A guy takes his fiancee to a football game. They meet friends, have some beer, but get kicked out of the seats they are in. The girl is upset about a lot of things and verbally abuses the guy. They have more beer, and after the game, start to drive home. During the trip, about 20 miles on a dry freeway with light traffic, the girl goes out of control and grabs the steering wheel. The car lurches to the right, hits another car, and both crash into the freeway concrete barrier on the right. The other driver is OK, the guy driving is slightly hurt, but the girl is knocked out and injured.

The paramedics come, the highway patrol comes, the guy states that he tried to evade road debris. He claims to have had 3 or 4 beers over 5 hours. He fails a field sobriety test. He is cooperative with the officer, but declines another field sobriety test. He is arrested, taken to jail, booked, and he takes a breath test that shows he has a 0.09% blood alcohol level one hour after the accident. The girl goes to the hospital, where she test 0.23% blood alcohol level one hour after the accident. She has back injuries and a badly cut face.

The defendant in the case is the guy who was driving home from the game. He is charged with driving with more than 0.08% blood alcohol in his system resulting in an injury. He testifies in his own defense, and states that his fiancee grabbed and turned the wheel, and that he might have had 5.5 beers during the evening. The fiancee testifies that she doesn't remember anything from the ride home, and admits she was very angry with him during the game.

The prosecution criminologist describes absorption and removal rates for "standard drinks" (12 ounces of beer is a standard drink) and states that for a 0.09% test one hour after the accident, that he would have been at 0.10% or higher at the time of the accident. There is a calibration correction that would lower 0.10% to about 0.09%. The defense attorney tried to confuse the issue some, but could not get the criminologist to budge from her estimates. The criminologist also stated that, using standard calculations, the defendant must have had 9 or 10 "standard drinks" over 5 hours in order to have a 0.09% level at the time of the accident.

So - how does the jury determine what happened, is the defendant guilty of the charge, and what is the outcome? I will describe the jury deliberations in the next post down - here.

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