in drunken driving case
-- ATTY. PHIL RUSSELL
Birch's attorney, Philip Russell, has said Birch is hearing impaired, and if he could not perform the tests it was because he could not hear the officers.
By Monica Potts
April 17, 2009
STAMFORD -- A judge declared a mistrial in a drunken driving case after the jury could not reach a verdict and one juror could not return for the fourth day of deliberations. Craig Birch, 54, of 8 Amelia Place, is charged with driving while intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol in March 2006.
"It was clear the jury spent a great deal of time considering the evidence in this case and took their role very seriously," said the case's prosecutor, Assistant State's Attorney Dina Urso. Despite that, she said, they were unable to come to a unanimous resolution.
Officer Jeff Booth testified during the trial that Birch failed two field sobriety tests. But Birch's attorney, Philip Russell, has said Birch is hearing impaired, and if he could not perform the tests it was because he could not hear the officers.
An Intoxilyzer test given at the police department indicated Birch had a blood alcohol level more than double the legal limit, and Birch refused a second test, according to testimony.
Russell presented a witness, Thomas Workman of Taunton, Mass., an attorney with an engineering background, who testified results on such tests can vary widely and can be altered by cell phones and other devices.
The case remains on the court docket, and Birch is to appear April 27.
BEFORE THE MISTRIAL WAS DECLARED,
PROMINENT DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
SAID THEY WERE SURPRISED THE JURY WAS STILL OUT ...
"In a case where you have a Breathalyzer that says it's .19, where it's twice the legal limit, it's highly unusual that a jury would be deliberating for this length of time," said Francis O'Reilly, who represents clients in Stamford. "Usually they come back and, bang, you're guilty."
Another defense attorney, Wayne Keeney, said it is because people are increasingly aware that field tests and Intoxilyzers are not exact.
"For a long time . . . the public relied upon field coordination tests -- for example, touch your nose, walk the line," Keeney said. "More and more, what seemed like a gimme before is something the jury begins to look askance at."