While the following story did not play out here in New Jersey, it does show just how the criminal process can get so complicated and messy that even a judge can make a mistake — leading to an accused person getting a second chance at justice.
The story is about a drunk driving case in Ohio, where a 52-year-old woman was pulled over and arrested for drunk driving. During the traffic stop, the woman was given three field sobriety tests but none of it — not the traffic stop, not the field sobriety tests — was captured on video. The woman claimed that the police officer did not perform these field sobriety tests per the national rules that govern them.
So she requested that the evidence be suppressed, but her trial court rejected the request. Her motion was appealed, and again it was denied. But once it made it to the state Supreme Court, her motion for evidence suppression was granted. The Supreme Court argued that the woman didn’t have to go into “excruciating detail” in order to support her request for evidence suppression. She merely had to notify the proper people of the issues at hand. The trial judge who initially denied her request said the 52-year-old did not have sufficient support for an evidence suppression motion.
The 52-year-old was originally convicted of her DUI charge, but the Supreme Court’s ruling overturns that conviction. The case will be retried with the evidence suppression being granted.
Due process is a vital right for people accused of crimes. Here we see it in action. The courts failed to allow the accused woman her right to an evidence suppression motion, and thus the outcome of the case could change.
Source: Cleveland.com, “Ohio Supreme Court overturns drunken driving charge, says Elyria court erred in dispute over evidence,” Robert Higgs, April 17, 2014