Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Case of "Jane Doe": The Long, Hard Fight

For the sake of anonymity, the names of the involved have been changed or redacted.

Jane Doe is a hero of mine. With her permission, I share you her story. After four long years, we finally received justice. Jane Doe comes from a good family. Her parents divorced; they both invested themselves in raising good kids. She grew up with two older brothers who insisted on making her brave. Both handsome, dashing and fearless, they insisted on teaching Jane to skydive. Despite her persistent resistance, one day they literally dragged her out on a plane and forced her to jump (not alone of course). Little did her brothers know, they were creating a fearless fighter.

Jane was in her late twenties on May 16, 2012. She was working two jobs- a waitress and stock broker. She had worked so hard and was so good at saving her pennies, she bought herself a house. Her life was work, no husband, no kids (plenty of time for that later). Tired and exhausted, on May 16, 2012 after having a few drinks at home she decided to drive up the road to her local McDonald’s and grab a bite to eat. No one called 911. There was no accident. A police officer pulled her over for what the video tape shows to be innocuous driving. He claimed she was weaving. She got out of her car and performed a walk and turn and one leg stand test well (even passing the one leg stand according to the cop). They arrested her and against her will, drew her blood. Now the United States Supreme Court in April of 2012 (the preceding month) had declared the Constitution forbade drawing blood on DWIs without a warrant. This landmark case was touted all over the national news. This did not phase the Bedford police officer who had her blood drawn anyway according to a Texas statute which was no longer constitutional. Her blood results just did not add up. An expert witness verified our suspicions. I told her that the judge had an obligation to throw out the blood as it was unconstitutional. We had a motion to suppress the blood in violation of the 4th amendment to the United States Constitution. The prosecution and I stipulated to all the important facts. There were no exigent circumstances. The Bedford police department had a system in place to have judges sign probable cause warrants to obtain blood. The Bedford cop made no attempt to get a warrant. I even had the Bedford municipal judge there who signs the warrant. To my shock, the judge denied the motion. So we went to trial and the judge let the illegal blood draw in. The jury convicted her despite overwhelming evidence that the blood draw did not match the facts. The blood expert (chemistry PhD. and former expert of the prosecutors) we hired testified he had no confidence in the blood result. The jury returned a guilty verdict on evidence that should have never been admitted. One juror, called me after the trial to discuss how troubled he was at the verdict. After the verdict, Jane was fired as a stockbroker due to the conviction. With such grave injustice, I advised her to hire attorney (redacted) to do the appeal. She struggled but somehow managed to keep her house and pay for an appeal at the same time. Jane never lost the faith that justice would ultimately prevail.

In the meantime, the judge put her on bond conditions (probation department) despite the conviction not being final. The conditions were far worse than while her case was pending. For anyone not familiar with the justice system, on a DWI there is no “innocent until proven guilty” while you await trial. The interlock industry and their lobbying have made sure of this. For ten months Jane had to report twice a month to probation, each time paying for a drug test (of which she never failed). They even took a hair sample that went back six months to make sure she had not been drinking. The probation officer (bond case load) told her that she should be wearing an ankle monitor (like sex offenders and high risk criminals) but would make an exception by having her blow into her camera interlock at three scheduled times a day (so much for plans of any sort). This whole time she has had the interlock as a bond condition since May of 2012, her arrest. So for ten months, Jane could not visit family (majority living in Nevada, as she was not going to drive there) or go out of town for trips. After ten long grueling months, upon request, the judge relented and reduced her reporting to once a month. All this while the court of appeals decided to sit on the case for literally years while other cases just like hers (and that would be affected) decided to plead. At long last, the court of appeals (transferred to the Eastland County Court of Appeals, not surprising) kicked it back to the trial court reversing the jury verdict and judge’s decision to allow in the illegally drawn blood. Yesterday, on Jane’s 32nd birthday we went back to the same court, same judge and received justice. In all this wait, her stock broker license expired. 

My opinion? If the United States Supreme Court rules, you better follow it. I gave that opinion (Missouri v. McNeely) to the judge and prosecutor. They had notice. No one would listen. In the meantime, a hardworking, young lady lost her career while everyone worried about the politics of the decision. How is this possible? Many people should have had their blood thrown out in Texas but did not (particularly in Tarrant County, Texas). Jane finally did. Why? Because she is a fighter. Happy 32nd Birthday Jane. You have proven that no one is above the law. The police, prosecutors and judges must obey the Constitution too.

1 comment:

TexasSwede said...

I hope she sues the police and the judge for lost wages/income, and for the cost to get a new stock broker license. They should also compensate her for the lower wages whe will receive due to having fewer years of work experience, etc.

Make it expensive to violate someone rights.