First let me preface this with I am in no way an expert when it comes to DUI jury trials. Yes I have litigated over 100 jury trials, but I'm always still learning, and I'm always open to becoming a better trial attorney. In my opinion the day a DUI Attorney says they are an expert is the day they stop learning and I don't ever want to stop learning. So every now and then I will watch parts of jury trials when I have the time. The past couple of weeks several of my jury trials were continued so I stuck around and watched parts of some other cases.
After watching several different DUI Attorneys litigate portions of a jury trial, I came way with some things that I felt were not very effective but are quick fixes. In other words I think there were some things the DUI Attorneys should not have done, or aspects of the trial they could have done a better job of. So here is a list of things that I think a DUI Attorney should not do when litigating a DUI case.
First keep things cordial with the Prosecution. Yes sometimes Prosecutors can be difficult to work with. And yes sometimes they are not always the most pleasant. But I'm a firm believer in taking the high road and always trying to maintain a cordial environment during a jury trial. I think a DUI Defense Attorney can come across his petty and sleazy if they acting up when dealing with the Prosecutor. A recent case I saw involved a DUI Attorney and a Prosecutor who obviously did not get along with one another. Both were taking jabs at each other in front of the jury, and both did not treat the trial with the respect it deserved. I think had the DUI Attorney taken the high road the jury would have perhaps liked him more and possibly sympathized with the client.
Secondly, do not ever admit your client was impaired. Especially if you're arguing to a jury to find your client not guilty of a DUI because there is a lack of impairment or evidence. I get what the DUI Attorney was trying to do here. He was trying to be self deprecating in a round about way and acknowledge the weaknesses in his case. However when you get up in your closing argument and say you acknowledge your client was impaired, I think this is probably not a very effective way to persuade the jury to acquit your client. I think there are much better ways to say portions of the evidence look bad, but there is still a reasonable doubt based on "xyz."
Lastly, take the time to dress nicely. You don't have to wear a $5000 suit. Although wearing a suit is always a must. But even if you wear a sports coat and slacks please take the time to at least iron your shirt and slacks. I think it is such a sloppy look to do otherwise, and the perception the jury has of a sloppy looking Attorney is a sloppy dresser is a sloppy attorney. You lose credibility and once you do not have any credibility with the jury the case is over.
It was definitely interesting to watch a few trials over the past few weeks. These were just a few things that I saw that I felt hurt the DUI Attorneys chances at trial.