State v. John Howell (SD33618) is a very recent case handed down by the Southern District Missouri Court of Appeals on the subject of DUI law. You can find the full case here: https://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=93570.
On May 12, 2012 and officer in a Southwest Missouri town attempted to stop the Defendant, but the Defendant ran from the officer and eventually had a wreck. The Defendant refused to do all field sobriety tests and the officer requested a warrant for a blood draw to find out if there was alcohol or drugs in the Defendant’s system.
During the blood draw allowed by the warrant to investigate the DWI, the blood kit checklist was NOT FOLLOWED by the paramedic. The tube containing blood was not inverted 20 times and the tube of blood was not properly labeled.
The Defendant had a trial on the DWI and objected to the admission of the blood test due to the paramedic failing to follow the checklist. The tube was probably only inverted the max of 12 times instead of the 20 stated on the checklist. The officer on the scene stated that the checklist as “merely a general guideline” and the Paramedic was unaware that a checklist even existed. The Trial Court allowed the evidence to come in and then the Court of Appeals reviewed the case.
The Court of Appeals disagreed with the Defendant and upheld the Trial Court’s decision. The Appeals Court concluded “that the MSDP checklist’s instructions to invert the tube and to label the tube also fall into the category of items that do not affect the admissibility of test results, at least under these circumstances.”
I am not a scientist, I am a Criminal Defense Attorney with a background of working at the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office. But even though I am not a scientist, I have to wonder if not following the checklist created by the State and Manufacturer of the blood test might be a problem. These tests matter. They can change the course of someone’s life. In fact, in this case the Defendant was sent to prison for 15 years. I am not saying he was not guilty, I do not know if he was or was not. I was not at the trial. But what I do know is that the test was important. And the checklist was not followed. The one the manufacturer said you were supposed to follow. What happens to the blood if the bottle is not inverted enough? Does it effect the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of the blood?
That is why you need an experienced eye looking at these cases. Someone that has been there before and can catch these issues before they jump up and surprise everyone at trial. Should an expert for the defense be called at the trial to talk about this?
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