Read the full article from Louisville’s NPR (WFPL) here
By Ashley Lopez
February 25, 2015
The recent revelation that breathalyzer tests are video recorded at the Louisville jail may lead to an influx of filings to re-opened drunk driving cases in the near future.
WDRB reported this weekend that a Louisville Metro Corrections official was exonerated of allegations he lied in court records through the release of a video from the jail. But WDRB also noted that the video surveillance feed used in the official’s defense was completely unknown to local defense attorneys.
This week, a Louisville defense attorney said Metro Correction’s surveillance video of breathalyzer tests from the last two years might put some of his past and present cases into question.
Paul Gold, an attorney who for decades has been representing people charged with DUIs, said for years he’d asked the county attorney’s office for all video records of the arrest of his clients—but he never received evidence from this specific video feed.
Gold said now that he knows about the video surveillance, he said it could affect dozens of his current and past clients.
“Now that I have had time to review a video I never saw before, I am learning different things about how my clients interacted when they were in the jail and whether proper jail procedures were followed,” he said.
In some instances, proper procedures were not followed, Gold alleges. For example, Gold claims authorities did not always follow a state law requiring a 20 minute observation period before administering a breathalyzer test to a DUI suspect.
“What that means is that if the observation period did not take place and state law was not followed, then therefore the breathalyzer reading would not be admissible in court,” he said.
This means the main evidence used to prosecute some DUIs was inadmissible in court—and Gold said some of his clients might have been improperly convicted of a DUI.
Gold said he’s begun reviewing old cases and, if necessary, will try to reopen them due to “newly discovered evidence.”
Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell said his office had no idea that video surveillance existed either.
“We would have turned this over if we knew it was in existence at the time that cases were pending and requests like this were being made, but we did not know either,” O’Connell said.
He said his office will assist anyone involved, but he added: “There may be cases that are filed in connection with this, but my office intends to vigorously defend any efforts by anybody to set aside a drunk driving conviction based on this.”
Gold said he and other defense attorneys are interested in looking back and properly defending all the DUI clients—even if some of their cases are already closed. And that means Jefferson County courts could be facing a high volume of re-opened DUI cases in the future.
“Courts will be dealing with this issue for the next couple of years not couple of months,” Gold said. “It’s of such a great magnitude and it is so important that it is going to be a long standing issue.”