The Science Educated Attorney
Interviewer: Should people consider all this technical stuff when they are looking to hire an attorney? How many attorneys do you think are willing to go even go close to the science of breath, blood, and urine testing?
Leckerman: It’s essential that an attorney who is handling drug DWI cases has proper training with the testing process and knows what type of information to get from the laboratory. If the attorney fails to get all the proper information through the discovery process, then the defense expert will not be able to properly determine if the laboratory did its job properly. Remember, we’re dealing with scientists here and there is a scientific method that has to be followed. For one scientist to determine that the other scientist followed the method properly, that scientist has to have all of the essential information when reviewing the case.
It’s absolutely necessary for the DWI defense attorney to know what to look for in these cases and you have to be able to explain all this information properly to a judge. Moreover, a lawyer needs to be able to explain this information in a basic way to a jury. The only way to be able to properly explain it is through self-education (books) or hands-on training through a laboratory. Obviously, the best education involves a combination of academic and practical training.
Without this training and experience, an attorney will not understand what is needed and will not be able to educate the judge properly. This knowledge is necessary to convince the judge to coerce the state to provide information from the lab. The prosecutor will never provide this information without a judge first signing an order. After that information is obtained, the properly-trained attorney will want to go through it to see if all the information has been turned over. If the information has not been turned over, you then have to go back to court and either make a motion to exclude the information or ask the judge to coerce the prosecutor to again provide that information.
Provided the attorney is able to understand the scientific data and find some errors in the testing process, he may want to bring in a defense expert. This expert would need to be someone who is a toxicologist, a pharmacologist, or someone with experience in analytical chemistry to review all the information, write a report criticizing any laboratory errors, and to testify.
Interviewer: How much time and money have you spent learning all this stuff, training yourself?
Leckerman: I’ve easily spent over 200 hours of time through hands-on training, seminars, and reading books on the subject. Reading books, research publications, or studies concerning all of these issues takes a lot of effort, a lot of time, and a lot of interest. The information is something that a lawyer is not taught to understand in law school. In addition, I’ve given lectures to other attorneys about how to obtain this information and how to interpret it correctly.