In the News
Another Flaw Emerges With Breath Test Machines
Attorney Bernard states, "Stop the madness".
Just one year after the Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) gained accreditation in compliance with a court order, they have released information that over 400 citizens have been illegally impacted once more in the course of breath testing. The court order followed years of litigation that uncovered gross negligence and malfeasance at OAT over an eight year period, affecting thousands of people. The new discovery announced Wednesday indicates that since 2011, the state's Draeger Alcotest 9510 breath testing machines have been malfunctioning and illegally transmitting reports to the RMV that have resulted in suspended licenses. These reports were sent without legally-required certifications by the administering officer, including the mandate that the officer submit information under the pains and penalties of perjury. OAT has not determined why the machine is malfunctioning, and has yet to investigate whether the malfunction affects the reliability of reported breath test results. Find the story here.
27,000 Mass. drunken-driving convictions may be tossed out due to faulty breathalyzer machines, lawyer says
Blown Away: Why the Police Rely on Faulty Breathalyzers
The news of the NYT's investigation of faulty breathalyzers has brought a lot of attention to this issue. On November 6, 2019, Attorney Joseph Bernard along with Jessica Silver-Greenberg, business reporter for The New York Times, and Jan Semenoff, forensic criminalist and editor of Counterpoint Journal, were interviewed live on air by Joshua Johnson of NPR about this widespread problem, where it started, and why it is important to everyday Americans. Listeners, including law enforcement personnel and concerned citizens, called into the show with questions and concerns. Attorney Bernard and the other participants responded to these messages during the show touching on subjects including public safety, issues of liberty, and the difficult task of balancing the two. It is surprising to most to learn of the breadth of this issue which is affecting tens of thousands of Americans and Canadians alike. To listen to the full interview, please follow this link.
These Machines Can Put You in Jail. Don't Trust Them.
Lawyers across the country have been working with law enforcement and members of the scientific community to investigate the science and algorithms behind breath testing and breath testing machines designed to determine blood alcohol content. The issues they have uncovered are staggering. New York Times investigative journalists including Stacy Cowley and Jessica Silver-Greenberg caught wind of these discoveries and did a feature on the NYT docu-series titled The Weekly. Attorney Bernard has represented numerous individuals who have had their lives turned upside down by these faulty and inaccurate breath test machines. Attorney Bernard was a principal resource for the NYT reporters and is featured both in the article below, and Season 1, Ep. 18 of The Weekly, Guilt by Machine. The Weekly airs each Sunday evening on FX. You can find past episodes on-demand on Hulu and FX streaming. To read more about it, please follow this link.
A Bureaucratic Nightmare Amid Drivers License Suspensions
Due to clerical errors, a rash of individuals have been receiving notices of suspension of their drivers licenses. This can lead to countless hours of uncomfortable and confusing phone calls, actual suspension of their right to drive, and lost time and wages due to their inability to get where they need to go. To read more about it, please follow this link.
Sobriety Checkpoint in Worcester County
Massachusetts State Police have announced that they plan to set up a sobriety checkpoint somewhere in Worcester County starting Saturday, October 26, into the morning of Sunday, October 27. The exact time and location of the checkpoint has not been announced. To read more about it, please follow this link.
Attorney Bernard’s Insistence on Accreditation Reap Rewards
Since the beginning of the litigation, Attorney Bernard has argued that the Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) should obtain accreditation. The OAT was the only branch of the forensic laboratory that was not accredited. Based upon Attorney Bernard’s work, the OAT is finally accredited and breath testing can resume according to the latest ruling from Judge Brennan in Commonwealth v. Ananias. The ruling states that breath test machines calibrated on or after April 18, 2019, may be used in court. Reporting on the story, the Boston Globe quoted Attorney Bernard saying “I think this is a success for every citizen who pays tax dollars… We deserve honesty, we deserve quality results… It’s transparent.” To read the full story click here.
Belchertown lawyer played a key role in breathalyzer case
Following the news that the Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) received accreditation, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reached out to speak with the lead defense counsel in Commonwealth v. Ananias, our very own Attorney Bernard! The Gazette quoted Attorney Bernard as stating “people really need to recognize, if they have an OUI from (2011 until present) and it’s impacting a job application or a bank loan, there’s a mechanism to take that off their record now, because these breath tests have been tainted.” Individuals who were charged with an OUI that involved a breath test during that time which resulted in a plea or a trial should expect to receive notices in September and October that they may be eligible to have their cases overturned and get a new trial. Click here to read the full story.
After Board Signs Off on Way Machines Calibrated, Results of Breath Tests May be Admissible Again
Attorney Joseph Bernard was featured in an article written by the Berkshire Eagle regarding the Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) being accredited by ANSI National Accreditation Board. Attorney Bernard was quoted stating “Year after year, the OAT remained the only part of the Commonwealth’s forensic laboratory that was not accredited.” Read the full story here.
State Police Lab Takes Step Toward Providing Breath Test Evidence
The Boston Herald wrote an article following the news that the Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) has been accredited by ANSI National Accreditation Board. Attorney Bernard was quoted saying “The great news is, it appears as if the Office of Alcohol Testing has finally got their act together and is moving in the right direction.” We are now fighting for the release of a report that the letter of accreditation is referencing and what the scope of the accreditation is. Read the full story here.
New York Times with Attorney Bernard in Palmer District Court!
On May 23, 2019, the New York Times recorded Attorney Bernard’s Oral Argument in the Palmer District Court. This hearing was a motion to withdraw a guilty plea for one of our clients who pled guilty to an OUI in Massachusetts in 2017. At the time of this offense, our client submitted to a breath test and it was used as evidence against him in court. Due to Attorney Bernard’s work in challenging the reliability of breath tests in Massachusetts in the state-wide litigation case, Commonwealth v. Ananias, breath tests were deemed inadmissible between June 2011 and the indefinite future.
Our client's case fell between the time frame of the exclusion of breath tests and thus he has a right to retry his case. The New York Time was there to record this argument and see Attorney Bernard in action. Attorney Thomas Workman also testified during this hearing and he is one of the nation’s leading experts on breath tests. He also played a huge role as an expert witness in Ananias. Here are pictures of Attorney Bernard, Attorney Workman, Attorney Erica Bruno, and members of the New York Times.
New York Times Interviews Attorney Bernard on Behalf of Breath Test Litigation
On May 22, 2019, Attorney Bernard was interviewed by the New York Times regarding his statewide breath test litigation, Commonwealth v. Ananias. The New York Times will be accompanying Attorney Bernard tomorrow, May 23, 2019, to the Palmer District Court, to witness a motion hearing to withdraw a guilty plea for one of our client’s who was convicted of an OUI in 2017 as a result of the use of the breath test.
Recent projects bring new look to downtown Springfield
Western Mass News approached Attorney Bernard in downtown Springfield when he was on his way back from the Springfield District Court. Attorney Bernard discusses the recent projects that have been occurring in Springfield to upgrade the new businesses and atmosphere. Go Springfield! Read the full story here:
I-Team: Massachusetts Judge Bans Use of Breathalyzer Tests In Court
22 News WWLP interviewed Attorney Joseph Bernard, lead counsel of Commonwealth v. Ananias, regarding the decision Judge Brennan made to ban breathalyzers tests in Massachusetts OUI cases until further notice. The Office of Alcohol Testing must show they they are likely to be approved of accreditation until breathalyzer tests can be used again. Attorney Bernard is quoted saying, "There are 7 different goals that the judge mandated they reach. They claimed that they had already reached them in court, but the judge disagreed and said no, you have to do certain things, and until you do these certain things, you're not going to be allowed to use breath tests in Massachusetts." Read the full story here:
Breathalyzer Results Banned From Being Used In Massachusetts Courts
Western Mass News reported on the decision made by Judge Brennan that affects OUI cases statewide in Massachusetts. Attorney Joseph Bernard is quoted saying, "It's huge because as we stand here right now, breath tests are not permitted to be introduced. That's indefinite until the Office of Alcohol Testing provides proof to this judge to show that they are going to receive accreditation." Click here to learn more.
Massachusetts Judge Bans Use of Breathalyzer Test In Court
WBUR News released an article discussing the decision made by Judge Brennan where he ruled that breath tests will continue to be excluded in OUI cases in Massachusetts until the Office of Alcohol Testing can show that they are likely to be succeed at accreditation. Attorney Bernard is quoted saying, "People go to jail, people lose their license, and the judge is essentially saying, if you're going to be putting liberties at risk, you better be precise. You better be accurate and the only way you're going to do that is to show accreditation." Read more here.
State Lab Must Show Progress For Breath Tests to be Used In Certain OUI Cases
Boston Globe reported that although there are some exceptions, breathalyzer tests cannot be used as evidence in drunk driving cases in Massachusetts. Attorney Joseph Bernard is ruling this as a significant victory, he is quote saying, "What it does is it protects the citizens, the courts, and the defense attorneys who demand fair and reasonable discovery practices." Click here to read the full article.
Massachusetts Judge Bans Use of Breathalyzer Test In Court
The Office of Alcohol Testing must undergo major reforms in order for breathalyzer tests to be used in OUI cases in Massachusetts again as ordered by Judge Brennan. Read more here.
Breathalyzer Controversy Returns to Court
WWLP interviewed Attorney Bernard regarding the latest update in Commonwealth v. Ananias. Prosecutors have agreed to exclude breath tests from evidence from 2011 to 2017 in OUI cases in Massachusetts. However, Attorney Bernard wanted to extend this time period even further due to the calibration of the breath tests. On 22 News at 5:00 p.m., Thursday, December 13, 2018, there will be a feature on television regarding this. Click here to read the full story.
Another Delay In Hearing On Use of Breath Test Results
On November 6, 2018, Salem News posted the latest update in the statewide breath test litigation case, Commonwealth v. Ananias. This article discusses why the hearing has yet again been continued. The defense, Attorney Bernard, needs to obtain and review proficiency test results for workers at the lab of the Office of Alcohol Testing. Thus, the hearing has been continued to November 26, 2018. Please utilize this article to read more information.
Judge Mulling Over When Prosecutors Can Resume Using BT Results
Salem News recently published an article discussing the latest update in the statewide breath test litigation case, Commonwealth v. Ananias. It is still not decided when breath test results can be admitted into evidence for OUI cases in Massachusetts. Click here to read the full story.
Massachusetts District Attorneys Agree to Toss Breath Test Results
MassLive recently published a news article regarding the progress in Commonwealth v. Ananias. Attorney Bernard is quoted saying "To correct the deficiencies that exist, the (Office of Alcohol Testing) must become accredited." Click here to read the full story.
Breathalyzer Results Could Be Thrown Out In More Than 35,000 Massachusetts Cases
WBUR News published an article regarding the proposed agreement between defense attorneys, including Attorney Bernard, and district attorneys in Commonwealth v. Ananias. Although this agreement still needs to be signed off by Judge Brennan, you can read the full story here.
Delays May Soon Be Over in Scheduling Breath Test Cases
MassGov released an update regarding the breath test cases in Massachusetts. Now that both parties in Commonwealth v. Ananias has come to an agreement, the usage of breath test results in court may begin again soon. Read here for more.
Proposed Settlement Filed in Alcotest Case
Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly discusses the progress Attorney Joseph Bernard, among other lawyers, have done in Commonwealth v. Ananias. This article discusses the proposed settlement agreement that Attorney Bernard filed in the Concord District Court on August 14, 2018. Read here for the full story through Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
Tainted Breathalyzer Results Could Force New Trials
The Salem News discusses the possibility of new trials for breath test cases due to Commonwealth v. Ananias. Attorney Bernard is quoted by saying, "It was not the district attorneys who were withholding the material. They had nothing to do with this and when they found out, they rose up." Click here for further information.
Thousands Convicted of OUI Could Seek New Trials Under Tentative Deal on Breathalyzers
The Boston Globe released an update regarding the agreements between the defense attorneys and the district attorneys on the usage of breath test results in the courtroom. Due to the work done by Attorney Bernard in Commonwealth v. Ananias, there could now be a possibility of thousands of new trials for convicted OUIs in Massachusetts. Attorney Bernard claims that much work has been done, but there is still much more. Click here for more.
NYSP breathalyzer model at center of 20,000 case controversies in Massachusetts
A New York reporter recently interviewed Attorney Bernard regarding the breathalyzer controversy in Massachusetts. New York State Police are currently still using the same breathalyzer that has been excluded from evidence here in Massachusetts. Click here to watch the interview and read more about this.
Researchers say a breathalyzer has flaws, casting doubt on countless convictions
Attorney Bernard, among other researchers, was recently mentioned in an article regarding breathalyzers. He discusses the ruling of breath test results being "presumptively unreliable" for two years prior to September 2014. Click here to read more on this.