Skip to main content
William C. Head
Avvo
Pro

William Head’s Legal Cases

79 total


  • Client Gets Pre-Trial Appellate Win, Tossing Entire DUI Case 257 Ga.App. 435 (2002)

    Practice Area:
    Appeals
    Date:
    Dec 01, 2002
    Outcome:
    Traffic Stop Illegal; Both DUI & Other Charge Out
    Description:
    Mr. Head's client sought to have the trial judge declare her DUI arrest to be illegal. The trial judge denied the motions. An appeal was sought by Mr. Head on behalf of his client prior to trial being conducted, and the Georgia Court of Appeals granted the appeal. On the merits, the trial judge's ruling was overturned. The breath test results (0.10) and all evidence of her alleged impairment should have been excluded, the appellate court held. Ms. M's entire DUI case was dismissed as a result of this appeal, without risking trial. This victory saved her job.
  • Vehicular Homicide Case Totally Won by Use of Speedy Trial Demand & Estoppel Motion

    Practice Area:
    Criminal Defense
    Date:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Outcome:
    Won appeal on all but 1 count, later won all
    Description:
    Mr. S came to Mr. Head in January of 2004 for representation after he was accused of DUI, hit & run, and FELONY vehicular homicide of a pedestrian. Mr. S also had a prior DUI conviction that had occurred within the last 5 years. The accident occurred during a fierce rain storm, in mid-block of a Buckhead (a well-known bar area in north Atlanta area) street at about 1 A.M. Blood had been drawn and the reults from the blood test were 0.14%. The case was intitially filed in the former City Court of Atlanta (abolished by the City of Atlanta at the end of December, 2004). That Court previously had jury trial jurisdiction over traffic misdemeanor charges, and each of Mr. S's original charges were misdemeanor-level traffic tickets, until the pedestrian died the next day from the injuries he received when struck by Mr. S's vehicle. Mr. S hired Mr. Head immediately and the next morning, a statutory speedy trial demand was filed by Mr. Head on behalf of Mr. S. At the Superior Court of Fulton County, Mr. Head asserted a "Motion for Discharge & Acquittal" based on that Prosecutor's failure to accommodate a statutory speedy trial demand. The judge who heard the motion, William Ison (Senior Judge, hearing the case by assignment) denied the motion. Mr. Head sought an immediate, direct appeal, which is permitted pre-trial because a reversal of the trial judge's decision would eliminate the entire case based on "former jeopardy". After the Georgia Court of Appeals eliminated all but one charge against Mr. Head's client were totally eliminated for lack of a speedy trial. {Case is reported at 245 Ga.App. 750, 538 S.E.2d 847(2005)} After the appeal was handed down, Mr. Head filed a new motion at the trial court [based on collateral estoppel] for the one remaining felony charge This was filed with the newly-appointed Fulton County Superior Court Judge, Tom Campbell. Mr. Head pointed out that the underpinnings of the dual serious driving offenses supporting the one open charge (DUI and hit & run) had been eliminated by a discharge and acquittal order, thereby stopping further prosecution. Judge Campbell agreed, and the State did not seek further appeal of his ruling. Therefore, Mr. S walked away from this serious felony case (maximum punishment of 15 years in state prison) without ever going to trial, and never going to jail, except after his DUI arrest (until he could bail out).
  • Trial Judge Illegally Restricts Defense Witness's Testimony; Mr. Head Gets DUI Reversed on Appeal

    Practice Area:
    Appeals
    Date:
    Jan 31, 2004
    Outcome:
    DUI Dropped After Judge's Trial Errors Cited
    Description:
    A pro hac vice (temporary) judge had blocked a key defense witness from testifying at K.J.'s trial. Mr. Head perfected the court record and immediately appealed. The DUI conviction was set aside. K.J. later had the DUI charge dropped entirely and entered a plea on a lesser offense, thereby saving his license and his job. The full citation of the case is: 260 Ga.App. 536, 580 S.E.2d 334, 03 FCDR 1206 [March 26, 2003 (No. A02A1662)].
  • Man with 0.266 Blood Test Drives Car Through His Garage Door, out Back Wall of His Home and Off Elevated Deck, Hitting Tree

    Practice Area:
    DUI & DWI
    Date:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Outcome:
    Not Guilty on All Charges
    Description:
    Client drove home with his wife after having dinner and alcoholic beverages to drink. As he entered his driveway, the car (a 1995 BMW 325 4-door) suddenly lurched forward and crashed through the garage door at high speed, proceeded at full throttle through the back wall of the home and onto a wooden deck, through the wooden railing and sailed off the deck into the back yard where the car launched itself a distance of over 27 feet and dropped 12 feet before landing on the ground and then striking a tree, where the vehicle stopped. Both the wife and Client were injured, but client was more seriously injured (broken back). Neither one was still in the vehicle when the police and EMTs arrived. The wife had managed to get into a lawn chair at the front of the house, and the driver (Client) was outside the wrecked vehicle on the ground, lying on his back. Police reported "an overpowering odor of alcohol" as they came into the back yard area. Client asked the arresting officer to help him stand up, and extended a hand for him to assist him to his feet. The police officer declined to allow him to get one his feet (due to his likely injuries from such a disasterous crash) and waited on EMT personnel to move him. The officer questioned him. The arresting officer, at trial, admitted that upon seeing the auto damage and where the car ended up in the back yard, that he called for ambulance BEFORE ever even locating my Client. Client admitted to the arresting officer that he had two glasses of wine, but officer never established a timetable of WHEN the alcohol was consumed. Client told officer "the accelerator stuck" multiple times, but otherwise was disoriented and talking about fear of coyotes and skunks that may attack him. The officer testified that he came to the conclusion that Client was drunk but NOT seriously injured before he read the implied consent advisements to him, but wanted him checked out for possible head and neck trauma due to the circumstances of the crash. The officer READ the "implied consent" to my prone client in the ambulance but never said "I am arresting you for DUI" nor stated in any way that he would be charged with DUI. Implied consent was read again at the hospital, but still NO ARREST. Later, officer "drops off" a copy of the DUI ticket to Client's wife, who was also at hospital being treated, and says he started to explain the charge to Client who told him he was familiar with the warning. Then, I had to get around the hurdle of our "serious injury" exception (see Hough), and got the officer to admit that he did not assess it that way. The judge slowly and reluctantly agreed to eliminate the blood test results of 0.266 grams percent based on appellate case law in Georgia. See Hough v. State, 620 S.E.2d 380 (Ga. Supreme Ct. 2005) Once the Prosecutor "rested" its case with no blood test in evidence and no field evaluations in evidence, we put two witnesses on the stand. Our two witnesses, Dr. Joe Citron, MD (for purposes of explaining the manifestations of head trauma mimicking DUI, plus citing a well-known scientific article by Burns, Moscowitz and Ferguson that studied the ability of experienced police officers to accurately predict high blood alcohol levels from smelling the "strong odor" of alcohol on a person's breath. The study concluded that officers were not able to reliably correlate strong odors with high BAC levels. Next, an experienced accident reconstruction expert Robert (Bob) Awtrey of www.southeasternsafetyassociates.com (who covered the sudden acceleration issues with this model of BMW [all 418,000 sold in the United States had a defective throttle control sleeve], as well as explaining the LIKELIHOOD that the vehicle defect launched the vehicle through the house and out into the yard.) Judge Randolph Rich, hearing the case without a jury, was compelled to find Client "not guilty" of all charges.
  • 0.275/0.285 Breath Test Case Won on Morning of Trial

    Practice Area:
    DUI & DWI
    Date:
    Jan 21, 2008
    Outcome:
    Breath Tests Tossed, DUI Dropped Entirely
    Description:
    After fighting the case for 16 months and over 20 hours of motion hearings, we announced "ready" for trial. Our objective was to finish the case so an appeal to the pre-trial rulings could be taken. Because the case was so "old" and needed to be closed, both parties agreed on the specially-set trial date. On the Friday before the Monday trial, the prosecutor called to offer a reduction of the DUI case to reckless driving. Because the Client needed a non-DUI disposition, she accepted that offer. The prosecutor had learned on the Friday before trial that the Intoxilyzer breath test operator was not going to be available for trial, due to a family trip he had planned for his daughter. Without the tests, the other evidence was fairly weak for the State because the Client declined field sobriety tests and never took a roadside breath test. Client was a state-licensed professional, and this resolution saved her ability to work in her chosen field. In Georgia, a reckless driving for a driver age 21 and over does not cause a license suspension. If trial had not been demanded, no appeal of the pre-trial rulings would have been possible. Therefore, the strategy of being ready for trial was the secret to winning the case.
  • High Speed Driver with 0.11 Breath Test Found "Not Guilty" of DUI

    Practice Area:
    DUI & DWI
    Date:
    Sep 14, 1994
    Outcome:
    Not Guilty on DUI Charges
    Description:
    Darrell K. and his brother wrapped up a July 4th outing and night of fun by dropping off three other friends and then driving 88 mph in a through northern Dekalb County at about 2:30 AM. A state trooper saw the car, gave chase at speeds topping 110 mph, and obtained a Vascar reading of 88.5 mph. After beginning to ticket Client, the officer testified that he noticed the smell of an alcoholic beverage, and asked Darrell if he would consent to some voluntary field tests. At pre-trial motions hearings, Mr. Head had questioned the officer about the field sobriety tests and the "time" between the arrest and the testing on the Intoximeter 3000. The officer testified under oath at both the motion hearing and at trial that he had waited at the Doraville police station for 20 minutes before testing Client. He testified that if he had not done that, his breath test result would not be reliable. (Darrell K. later testified that he was walked straight in to the Doraville station and placed at the machine with no observation period.) We subpoenaed the tow truck records to show that the arresting officer's version was impossible, since the trooper had also sworn that he waited for the tow truck to leave the scene before transporting Darrell. Indeed, the tow truck records showed the officer's signature authorizing the tow of the vehicle. Darrell's brother (who had been a passenger) also testified that the trooper stayed at the roadway until the car was towed. The arresting officer also testified that it took 8 to 10 minutes to get to Doraville PD from the arrest site on Peachtree Industrial just outside I-285. A test result of 0.11% was obtained by the arresting officer, who was a certified Intox 3000 operator. The officer testified that he had given correct implied consent advisements, despite the Darrell's testimony that no card was read to him at the scene at all. To create reasonable doubt about the reliability of the 0.11% result, we subpoenaed Georgia State Trooper TFC Jack Denny of the Calhoun, GA post. Denny was one of three area (North Georgia) supervisors for the Intoximeter 3000. He trained officers on breath testing protocol and procedure. He serviced and maintained breath machines for the GBI. He testified that due to the lack of 20 minutes of direct observation, that the test result was unreliable. He also stated that the "observation" procedure followed by the arresting officer violated training for breath testing operators. Rick Swope, of Davie, FL, who is certified on the Intox 3000 and the Intoxilyzer 5000 confirmed that the waiting period was absolutely essential to obtain reliable breath test results. We also benefited from impeachment created by the officer testifying at the motion hearing 18 days earlier that he turned Darrell away from oncoming lights and the blue strobes to do the HGN (eye jerking) test. At trial he changed this, and under cross-examination, admitted that he had testified falsely under oath. To add credibility to the defense version of the facts, we brought in three fact witnesses who testified (1) that Darrell had consumed very little alcohol, and none at all for more than three hours prior to the stop, (2) that Darrell had suffered from and been medically treated for gastric problems [G.E.R.D.], and that he took prescribed medication for the stomach malady, and (3) that, on the night in question, Darrell had driven more than 70 miles around Atlanta, without incident and without speeding, prior to the 88 in a 55 that got him pulled over. To bolster the Darrell's personal credibility, we brought in two respected businessmen who knew Darrell's reputation for truthfulness in the community. These character witnesses were pillars of the community. Although brief, their testimony established Client as a truthful person, compared to the trooper, who testified forcefully and without flinching, even when he was lying under oath. The jury acquitted Darrell on both DUI counts-per se & impaired
  • Contractor with 0.20 Breath Test Found Not Guilty of DUI at Trial

    Practice Area:
    DUI & DWI
    Date:
    Apr 20, 1995
    Outcome:
    Not Guilty of DUI Despite 0.20 Breath Reading
    Description:
    Defendant, a building contractor, was charged with DUI and driving without a tag. Defendant submitted to three field sobriety tests, and the State trooper testified that the subject failed all three tests. The Defendant was given an Alco-sensor test (roadside alcohol screening device) that showed "positive" for alcohol. An Intoximeter 3000 test given by the same trooper, showed 0.20 grams percent - over twice the legal limit. The test results were allowed into evidence. After the jury was impaneled and the issue was joined, Defendant moved to limit testimony to a "less safe" case, because the City proceeded to trial on the Uniform Traffic Citations, rather than a formal accusation. Because the DUI citation only mentioned 40-6-391(a)(1), the motion sought to eliminate any other type of DUI as a means by which the Defendant could be convicted. Relying on Kevinezz v. State, 265 Ga. 78, 454 S.E.2d 441 (1995) cited by the defense, the Court excluded any reference to the DUI count (per se) for driving with an unlawful blood alcohol level. The trial (and pre-trial motions) lasted all or part of three days. Mr. Head called (as defense witnesses) numerous fact and expert witnesses to prove that the test result on the Intoximeter 3000 was likely erroneous, due to the Defendant's exposure to glue and paint thinner while working on a construction job as well as from the smokeless tobacco that he kept in his mouth all day long (he swallowed the juice). Moreover, Defendant testified that he had "a pinch between his cheek and gum" (Copenhagen) when tested on the breath device. Mr. Head called Mr. Phil Hancock (former Director of the Implied Consent breath testing unit of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation) who testified that [when he ran the breath test program] he had run experiments which proved that the chemicals in smokeless tobacco could actually cause a "false positive" reading on an Intoximeter 3000 if any residue was in the person's mouth. TFC Jack Denny (the area supervisor who serviced and repaired the Intox 3000 machine) testified that all Intox 3000 operators were trained to not offer a breath test to any subject with any substance (such as tobacco or gum) nor to anyone who had been exposed to paint fumes or similar volatile chemicals, due to the fact that an Intox 3000 could not tell the difference between alcohol and these chemicals. According to the arresting officer and other witnesses called by Mr. Head, the Defendant's clothing, shoes and vehicle had evidence of paint materials, and Defendant also told the arresting officer that he had just left work where he was painting and gluing plastic PVC pipes together for the plumbing within the new house under construction. A co-worker testified that he had been with Defendant continuously on the day in question from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and that Defendant did not consume any alcoholic beverages. Defendant was stopped at 6:32 p.m. while en route home from the job site. Under cross-examination, the co-worker said that in the four years he had known and worked with Defendant he had never known him to have a single drink of alcohol. After twenty minutes of deliberation, Defendant was acquitted of all DUI charges and driving without a tag. Judge Lenwood A. Jackson is now deceased, but was the chief trial judge of the City Court of Atlanta and presided over this and over more than 80 trials handled by Mr. Head before this same judge between 1994 and 2003. In 2006, the new Municipal Court of Atlanta Building was named for him. It was the first court building in history named for an African-American within the State of Georgia.
  • Almost Incoherent Driver Acquitted of DUI-Alcohol after Jury Trial

    Practice Area:
    DUI & DWI
    Date:
    May 15, 2002
    Outcome:
    Not Guilty of DUI-Alcohol
    Description:
    D.W. was a former New York resident with a long history of psychiatric problems. He and a neighbor were at the neighbor's condominium working on a computer software problem all day before stopping for pizza and a few beers late in the evening. D.W. was taking prescribed medication for his "manic-depressive" (bipolar) condition. After he and the friend finished work, he was supposed to go upstairs to his own condominium. Although he only had a beer and a half, he had taken his medications that were prescribed for bipolar disorder. These medications were Halcion, Lithium, and Paxil. Instead of going to bed, he decided to go to his girlfriend's residence. He took her Toyota Camry, which was parked at his condo location. When he got to her gate, he found that she was not home from work yet (she had a promotional event for her employer). He tried to "key in" her access code, but the gate would not open. In a drug-induced haze and totally frustrated, he backed up the Camry and rammed the metal gate that was anchored into two large brick pillars. The front end of the Camry became wedged in the massive steel gate. He tried to dislodge it by putting the car in reverse first, then drive, then back into reverse and back into drive--dragging the heavy gate back and forth. Needless to say, the entire condo complex was soon awake (prior to D.W. freeing the car). Later, the damage to the gate and support pillars was determined to be over $10,000. He backed out and sped away from the scene, leaving most of Toyota's bumper and front end parts behind. Both headlights were broken and not working. As he came to a red light at the 400 loop, he ignored the red signal and turned left toward Peachtree Street. A police car that had been dispatched to the "gate dragging" location nearly broadsided his damaged Toyota vehicle as D.W. ran through the red light. The police car got behind the Toyota just as D.W. swerved wide and ran up on to the curb of the 400 loop near the Buckhead Ritz-Carlton. D.W. pulled into the parking lot of the Ritz-Carlton in response to the officer's blue lights. D.W. stepped out of the Toyota, holding on to the top of the driver's door and the roof of the vehicle. When he did, his pants fell to the ground. No field tests were possible due to his unstable condition. D.W. refused to take ANY breath tests for the two officers at the scene. At trial, the arresting officer testified that there was a 1/2 beer bottle open and sitting in the center console of D.W.'s vehicle. He testified that he could smell the odor of alcohol on D.W.'s breath. He also testified, on cross-examination by Mr. Head, that he had NEVER seen anyone so "wasted" in his life. Further cross-examination by Mr. Head revealed that the officer had no training in "drug recognition" symptoms. The officer also said that he never asked D.W. if he had consumed any prescribed medications. Defense witnesses called by Mr. Head included the condo neighbor, D.W.'s girlfriend, and a medical doctor who testified at the jury trial. Our sole defense to the "DUI-alcohol" charge was that he was not under the influence of ALCOHOL, because he had only consumed 1 1/2 beers at the most. We argued that he was impaired by PRESCRIPTION DRUGS and that he was not accused of "DUI-DRUGS." Because teh Prosecution had "mis-charged" the TYPE of DUI, we argued that the jury MUST acquit him of the DUI. The jury acquitted D.W. of the DUI offense after a 3 hour deliberation. Judge Tharp was (at that time) acting as a Pro Hac Vice (temporary) judge for the City Court of Atlanta.
  • Wreck into Retaining Wall and 0.23 Blood Test - Acquitted of DUI at Trial

    Practice Area:
    DUI & DWI
    Date:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Outcome:
    Not Guilty - Wreck and 0.23 Blood Test
    Description:
    On April 4, 2003, V.D.K. was driving along a rainy Sandy Plains Road in Cobb County, GA on her way home from having after-dinner drinks with a fellow employee when she lost control of her 2001 Toyota in the rain. When another car veered into her lane, her car careened off the guardrail to the right, hydroplaned to the left across the grass median and the oncoming traffic lanes and ended up with the front end against a concrete retaining wall. It was about 7:30 PM when the police were called to the scene of the accident. By the time police arrived, V.D.K. had flagged down a passing motorist for help. This woman took her home, a distance of a couple of miles. The arresting officer came to the accident location and found that the driver had departed. He gave police dispatch the tag number of the wrecked vehicle, and the police dispatched a second officer to her home. There, the second officer found V.D.K. walking around from the back yard of her home to the front door of her home. He asked her if she had been involved in a wreck. She said she had. He then told her she needed to come back to the scene with him. She went back to the scene, at his insistence. At the roadway again, the first officer attempted to get her to perform some field sobriety tests, which she declined, based on advice she had received from her attorney for her last DUI arrest. The officer arrested her despite the fact that she did not attempt to perform field evaluations. The officer then read her the Georgia implied consent advisements. She stated that she wanted a blood test. The officer asked for blood and urine, which she agreed to take. She was then taken to Cobb County jail, where she was later able to post bond and be released. The blood test came back from the GBI several months later as a 0.23 BAC. The legal standard was 0.08 at the time of her arrest. V.D.K.'s two prior DUI offenses within 5 years meant that a guilty plea or a trial loss would take away her driver's license for 5 years. Mr. Head advised her to elect a bench trial. At this bench trial, V.D.K. did not testify. On September 18th, 2003, she was found not guilty by the trial judge when Mr. Head was able to block the blood test results from being admitted due to a flaw in the chain of custody. V.D,K. was found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage and fined by the judge and placed on probation. She served no additional jail time at all, despite an original recommendation by the prosecutor (if she would plead GUILTY) of jail time for 12 months, based on her horrible prior driving history. The judge assigned to this court was out, and pro hac vice judge Melinda Taylor was sitting as judge, by designation.
  • 0.211 Breath Test and Video of Driver Begging to Be Let Go, Yet Acquitted at Trial

    Practice Area:
    DUI & DWI
    Date:
    Nov 24, 2003
    Outcome:
    Not Guilty Despite 0.211 Breath Test & Speeding
    Description:
    In May of 2003, a petite 33-year old corporate executive was on her way home after 1:00 AM along Highway 92 in the City of Woodstock (Cherokee County) after an company party. She was speeding when the officer clocked her on radar. Her traffic stop was recorded on video tape by the sergeant handling the case. Initially, the officer was only going to issue a warning ticket for speeding, but noticed that the tag had just expired. In asking her about this, he noticed the smell of alcohol on her breath. He next asked her to get out of the car so he could “evaluate” her. The first roadside screening test he offered was the Alco-Sensor, a hand-held detector breath alcohol device. He held up the digital read-out, showing her the 0.25 reading on the screen. Next, he began the instruction phase for the walk and turn field test. After she started to perform this evaluation prematurely, he had her go back and wait until he finished his instructions. As he tried to give her the instructions, she stepped out of the “stance” he had her standing in, and told him, “I can’t do these tests.” He offered other tests, such as the alphabet test, and she said, “I can’t do any tests. I shouldn’t be driving, but I could not find a ride home.” She asked him to help her get home. The officer then arrested her, commenting to his back-up officer, “It doesn’t get any better than that!” Her Intoxilyzer 5000 tests showed a reading of 0.211 (the lower of two sample exhalations) from tests taken approximately 40 minutes after the traffic stop. A bench trial was selected, based on the fact that the Uniform Traffic Citation was drawn to only accuse the per se DUI offense (for driving while having an unlawful blood alcohol level above 0.08 grams). We did not challenge the tag expiration nor the speeding. Due to erroneous and misleading statements made by the officer --- shown on video --- after giving the “implied consent” to Client on the video tape, Mr. Head was able to get the State’s entire breath test result excluded by the trial judge in the middle of trial. Because the per se DUI case depended entirely upon the test result being admitted into evidence, the trial judge had no choice but to find her “not guilty” of DUI. She was fined $62.50 for speeding, and the fine was waived for the tag problem, since she paid the renewal prior to coming to court.