The Fallout of Breath Test Evidence: Motion to Vacate Plea or Motion for New Trial
If you were convicted of an OUI in Massachusetts and submitted to a breathalyzer that was calibrated between June of 2011 and April 18, 2019, you may be eligible to have your case reopened. The reason for this begins with Attorney Bernard’s work in the statewide litigation Commonwealth v. Ananias, the statewide litigation challenging the scientific reliability of breath test results in Massachusetts. The Court not only agreed with Attorney Bernard that breath test results from this particular time period were scientifically unreliable, it sanctioned the Office of Alcohol Testing (OAT) after it was uncovered by the late breath test expert Thomas Workman that OAT had intentionally withheld court ordered documents that showed that the breathalyzer devices were failing the calibration process.
As a result of this discovery, OAT was investigated by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS). EOPSS released an investigative report finding that OAT made “serious errors of judgment in its responses to court-ordered discovery, errors which were enabled by a longstanding and insular institutional culture that was reflexively guarded, which frequently failed to seek out or take advantage of available legal resources, and which was inattentive to the legal obligations borne by those whose work facilitates criminal prosecutions.” The EOPSS investigation further revealed that “OAT’s response to [the defense’s discovery] motions reveals a system that was haphazard at best, and which frequently failed to produce responsive documents that were in OAT’s possession.” Ultimately, the government agreed that OAT’s misconduct was not just negligent, but intentional.
Based upon this intentional misconduct, breath test evidence was excluded by the Court until OAT could show that it was in compliance with necessary orders to correct the serious lack of trust in the crime laboratory, including the requirement that OAT apply for accreditation. The Court found that OAT was in compliance with all court orders as of April 18, 2019. Thus, the Court held that breath test evidence from a breathalyzer that was last calibrated between June of 2011 and April 18, 2019 should be excluded in OUI prosecutions.
As a result of an OUI conviction, many defendants suffered a loss of license, were denied employment opportunities, were mandated to turn over firearms licensing, and are still subject to driver’s license restrictions such as an interlock ignition device. If you believe this pertains to you, The Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard will be able to review your matter and determine whether there is a valid motion to vacate your plea or motion for a new trial in your case.
What happens after the Motion to Vacate Plea or Motion for New Trial is filed?
After the Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard files a motion to vacate your plea or a motion for a new trial with the court in which you were convicted, it is up to a judge to determine whether to allow your motion. The judge will examine whether there was other overwhelming evidence of impairment even without the breath test result. Based upon the strength and significance of the newly discovered evidence about the serious problems with breath test results, we are confident in the success of these motions. However, it may be a lengthy period of time before the judge issues a decision.
The Motion to Vacate Plea or Motion for New Trial was allowed, now what?
Once your motion to vacate your plea or motion for a new trial is allowed, your case is officially reopened. This does not mean your case is automatically dismissed. Your case is then an active case in the court system and the Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard can begin to litigate it as such. We would be able to fight for your innocence without the Commonwealth being able to use your breath test results as evidence against you.
If you believe this pertains to you, please contact the Law Offices of Joseph D. Bernard. Our law firm is the most experienced with these motions because our attorneys were directly involved in the statewide litigation that leads to the exclusion of breath test evidence.