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William C. Head
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William Head’s Legal Cases

79 total


  • DUI - Refusal & Three other Charges - Not Guilty on All Counts

    Practice Area:
    DUI and DWI
    Date:
    May 18, 1999
    Outcome:
    Not Guilty to All Charges
    Description:
    Defendant E.Y. was temporarily assigned to work in the Metro Atlanta area. He was from Mississippi. While in his company vehicle, he and a co-worker were cruising around at 3:30 A.M., trying to find an open bar. As they proceeded up Cobb Parkway, Sgt. Rokovitz noticed the GMC Yukon not stop completely behind the "balk line" (the painted white line demarking an intersection at a traffic light). Rokovitz then turned on his video camera to record E.Y.’s driving conduct. First, E.Y. attempted to go to a nude bar which had just closed. E.Y. then pulled out of the center turn lane and moved back into traffic. Rokovitz followed. After another 1.3 miles of following the GMC Yukon, E.Y. signaled a left turn into a convenience store. However, he pulled across the "gore lines" (yellow hash marks painted on the road to signify "no traffic") just beyond a concrete median. Rokovitz then activated his blue lights. The pullover location was in the convenience store parking lot. The entire stop and conversation was video and audio taped. E.Y. admitted drinking and reluctantly attempted to perform field testing. Every field test was failed miserably, according to Rokovitz. The video tape showed that E.Y. could not balance on one leg and (when attempting the alphabet for the second time) showed E.Y. cursing about his inability to recite the ABC’s. Rokovitz arrested Defendant and charged him with four offenses: (1) Not stopping behind the balk line; (2) Lane violation (for allegedly touching the white fog line once); (3) Improper turn across the gore lines; and (4) DUI. E.Y. refused to be tested at the hospital. At a pre-trial motion evidence of E.Y.’s alleged "refusal" to submit to a blood test was suppressed, based on the officer’s failure to properly read his implied consent rights. A two day jury trial resulted after no reduction of charges could be negotiated. Because E.Y. would lose his license and job upon conviction for DUI, he had no choice but to challenge the State’s case. Plus, this was a third offense for him. Inasmuch as he had a pending case in Mississippi and an older conviction in another state, the stakes were very high. A motion for directed verdict of acquittal eliminated all charges except the DUI, based upon improperly drawn accusations. The jury considered only the DUI charge and acquitted E.Y. in 75 minutes. He walked away from all charges "Scot free". The trial judge was Harris Adams, who was then the chief judge in Cobb County. He is now a Georgia Court of Appeals judge.
  • Speeding Client with 0.17 BAC Level Found Not Guilty of all Charges (including Speeding)

    Practice Area:
    DUI and DWI
    Date:
    May 16, 1999
    Outcome:
    Not Guilty on All Charges (DUI and Speeding)
    Description:
    Defendant, who was 21 years of age at the time of arrest, was charged in Lumpkin County, GA with DUI and speeding based on radar (77 in a 55). Defendant had two underage females with him in the car. The Defendant had a "Blow-pop" sucker in his mouth when stopped, which the officer immediately attributed to him "trying to mask the smell of alcohol". The arresting officer was the supervisor of the DUI Task Force and the County’s most experienced officer, having arrested over 1500 DUI suspects. The roadside agility tests were all allegedly failed by Defendant, and the hand-held alcohol screening device [Alco-sensor] also showed positive for alcohol. The breath test of 0.17% had been excluded from the State's case-in-chief by stipulation, due to faulty implied consent advisements given at the time of arrest. In presenting the State’s case, the prosecutor omitted reference to any of the numerous positive factors shown in the police report and field sobriety scoring sheets. On cross-examination, the officer admitted to not asking any significant screening questions about the Defendant's health (before starting field testing) other than "do you have any problem with your eyes?" and "do you have any knee or ankle problems?" The officer also admitted that he did not follow the NHTSA scoring method and "clues", because he had done so many cases that he "just got an overall impression" and made his decision to arrest. The defense case relied virtually entirely upon the testimony of one of the two female passengers, who was 19 years old at the time of Defendant’s arrest. She admitted to drinking alcohol (two beers between noon and 3:00 P.M.) and being underage at that time. The second passenger had only been in the car (and only with Defendant) for some 40 minutes, and also was scheduled to testify until her vehicle was rear ended by a car on the evening of the first day of trial. She was medically unable to return to testify. Our one witness testified as follows: The female friend verified the lack of beer at the rock-climbing location, the lack of a smell of alcohol on him when he arrived from Tennessee, his clear speech and normal conduct all day long, his ability to rappel 900 feet and the fact that she was his passenger for over 125 miles of driving through winding, mountain roads prior to the speeding incident leading to J.G.’s arrest. After the defense rested, the prosecutor asked the court to permit introduction of the previously excluded 0.17% breath test result, "for rebuttal". Mr. Head objected, based upon 6 separate grounds. Despite Mr. Head’s objections, the State was permitted (in rebuttal) to introduce not only the breath test result, but also testimony from a so-called State expert (Gwinnett County officer Bill Blodgett) on the effects of alcohol on the human body. The State's expert opined that it was impossible to reach 0.17% on one beer, and that a person of Defendant's size would require about 9 beers in a two hour period to reach such an elevated BAC. Mr. Head leveled a series of questions about the average rate of elimination of alcohol for this 220-pound man. The key to the case was asking the State's so-called “expert” to (a) assume that our witness (the 19-year old female passenger) had testified truthfully about no alcohol from 4:00 P.M. to midnight, (b) calculate what his starting BAC level would have had to have been before "eliminating" down to 0.17%, and (c) calculate how much beer the Defendant would have had to consume to have reached such a BAC level [more than a 0.40%]. His answer on quantity was "about 2 gallons". The guffaws of laughter from several of the jurors reflected their disbelief of the Intoximeter 3000's accuracy and reliability, and portended doom for the prosecution's case. Due to inability to prove a "radar" case, a defense motion for directed verdict of acquittal eliminated the speeding charge. The jury deliberated for 50 minutes & found him not guilty of all remaining charges.
  • Arrest of Client with Multiple DUI Convictions for a DUI-Marijuana Charge Puts Client's Job and Liberty at Risk

    Practice Area:
    DUI and DWI
    Date:
    Apr 19, 1999
    Outcome:
    Trial Results in Acquittal of DUI-Marijuana Charge
    Description:
    Client was a cabinet maker who worked in homes and offices building cabinets of all types. He had to be able to drive to work. So, when he was stopped on a Saturday for weaving along a Newton County road by a Newton County deputy on traffic duty, a critical situation arose. The ensuing arrest for driving under the influence of drugs [marijuana] (the smell of marijuana inside the pickup truck was extremely stong and Client admitted that he had smoked marijuana inside the truck earlier. Also, this was not Client's first arrest for DUI, inasmuch as he had two prior convictions of DUI-alcohol. The Client hired Mr. Head to handle the case. Mr. Head identified a flaw in the Uniform Traffic Citation as soon as he reviewed the documents from the Client's arrest. The case was set for an appearance with the Probate Court of Newton County, an entry-level court for misdemeanor traffic offenses in Newton County. Mr. Head knew that he could bind over the case to Superior Court of Newton County, if a jury trial was desired, because Probate Courts in Georgia have no jury trial authority for traffic cases. However, the bindover would almost guarantee that the flaw in the traffic ticket [known as a uniform traffic citation] for DUI would be amended and corrected by the District Attorney. The case was scheduled for trial, and the Uniform Traffic Citation had not been amended or corrected. As soon as the deputy began to testify, Mr. Head immediately objected to all testimony about "DUI-drugs" or "DUI-marijuana" because the traffic ticket had mistakenly been written as a DUI-alcohol "less safe" case [OCGA 40-6-391(a)(1)]. Therefore, all testimony about the use of marijuana was immaterial and not relevant to a DUI-alcohol charge. When Judge Baker read the case law (appellate cases) Mr. Head brought to trial, including a key decision for the Georgia Supreme Court {Kevinezz v. State from 1995}, he asked the deputy if he had any proof whatsoever that Mr. Head's Client was impaired by ALCOHOL, and the deputy admitted that he did not. Judge Baker then ruled that the Client was "not guilty" of DUI-drugs (marijuana), but found him guilty of "improper lane change" and fined him $75 for the lane violation. The trial saved Client's job, and prevented a certain jail term for a repeat offense DUI.
  • Attorney with Two Prior DUIs Rear Ends Another Vehicle on I-285; Mr. Head Gets DUI Kicked Out

    Practice Area:
    DUI and DWI
    Date:
    Oct 07, 1998
    Outcome:
    DUI Tossed Out due to Violation of Client's Rights
    Description:
    Defendant, a local attorney, rear-ended a Jaguar on I-285 in North Fulton County in August of 1995. No one in either car was seriously injured. The case was first investigated by a regular patrol officer who (after administering field tests) made a determination that the Fulton County driver was intoxicated. She handcuffed him and was soon joined by a DUI Task Force officer. The second officer , Ed Smith, was a DUI training officer and had a specially-equipped vehicle, which had video and audio recording equipment. The tape showed the client trying to perform several field tests and failing all miserably. Even the ABC’s were beyond his ability. R.G. refused a blood test at Northside Hospital. The State would later argue that was understandable, since this was a THIRD offense in five years. Due to his prior record, the best offer from the State for a plea of "guilty" was six months to serve in jail. Pre-trial motions resulted in one pre-trial appeal seeking to dismiss the case on a technicality. Although this appeal prior to trial did not cause dismissal of the case, other pre-trial motions resulted in the following: (1) Exclusion of the second officer’s entire video and audio tape; (2) Exclusion of any mention of field sobriety testing by the second (highly trained) officer; (3) Exclusion of any mention of R.G.’s alleged "refusal" to submit to a blood test. After 38 months of battling and negotiating with the state, the case was called for trial on October 7, 1998. As a result of the elimination of almost all of the State’s evidence, the DUI charge was dismissed entirely. The "following too close" charge was "merged" into a new charge of "reckless driving". Because Georgia does not suspend licenses on reckless driving charges, no license suspension occurred. Fines totaled $1,150, but the client did not serve any jail time at all, and had no community service to perform.
  • Underage Georgia Tech Student Acquitted of DUI Despite Admitting Specifics about Consumption

    Practice Area:
    DUI and DWI
    Date:
    Aug 21, 1998
    Outcome:
    19-Year Old Acquitted of DUI at Jury Trial
    Description:
    Defendant, a nineteen year old Georgia Tech student from South Carolina, was stopped by an Atlanta DUI Task Force Officer for speeding (56 in a 35 mph zone). The smell of alcohol led the officer to ask about consumption of alcohol, to which Defendant answered in the affirmative. The officer indicated that the Defendant failed all three standardized field tests, and refused to submit to an Alco-sensor test, whereupon he was arrested. The officer's subsequent request for a breath test on the Intoxilyzer 5000 was also declined. All significant pre-trial motions were denied. At the two day trial, the Defendant testified that he knew that breath testing was optional, and stated that he declined because he was worried about being accused of "underage possession" of alcohol. He stated that he had taken a sip of a Goldslauger "shot" belonging to a friend, plus drank one "B-52". Using another fact witness (another Tech student) to corroborate the fact that Defendant drank very little and was the first among his group to leave the bar, the moderate amount of drinking was established. An expert witness for the Defense gave testimony that even if the drinks consumed amounted to the equivalent of four drinks, Defendant's blood alcohol level would have been .05 or less, based on his body weight and the amount of muscle mass in his body. A nolo contendere plea was entered to speeding prior to trial. The jury considered only the issue of "less safe" DUI (alcohol). After seventy minutes of deliberation, a not guilty verdict was returned on August 21, 1998.
  • Amorous Boyfriend Runs Red Light, Totals Two Vehicles and is Arrested for DUI & Refuses Breath Tests - Aquitted at Trial

    Practice Area:
    DUI and DWI
    Date:
    Aug 19, 1998
    Outcome:
    Not Guilty of the DUI-Alcohol Charge
    Description:
    B.F. had recently moved to Georgia from Virginia. On the day before Valentine's Day of 1998, he arranged for his girlfriend of two years to fly down from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta to meet him for a romantic weekend. Her 9:00 p.m. flight was delayed until 10:15 p.m. He met her at the gate (before security rules prohibited this). The couple went to a restaurant-bar, where he had two drinks (one wine and one gin & tonic) and she had one glass of wine. Leaving to go to B.F.'s apartment at about 12:45 a.m., he was traveling westbound when he stopped for the red light at the intersection of Mt. Vernon and Peachtree-Dunwoody Road. While waiting on the light to change, the B.F. and his passenger were "all over each other" at the light. They had not seen each other for six weeks, and the car provided some semblance of privacy. B.F. then drove his vehicle forward, thinking that the light had turned green. In fact, only the green left turn arrow had changed and cars in that lane next to his were moving, but he did not have the right-of-way to proceed straight through the red light. A head-on collision resulted, as another car with the right-of-way attempted a left turn and then tried to divert his path at the last moment to avoidn B.F.'s oncoming car. Both cars were totaled. An independent witness stopped and gave the police officer who investigated the accident a detailed account of what occurred. At trial, after sitting with the "victim" all day, his story became even more uncomplimentary of Defendant's driving. Unfortunately for the State, the original version was recorded in the police report by the arresting officer, who recounted the true facts. The police officer, while stating that he was of the opinion that B. F. was drunk, was instrumental in helping the defense refute the independent witness’s "new" version of the accident, and showing the jury that a tremendous amount of doubt existed in this case. Due to an error in the implied consent advisements given by the arresting officer, Mr. Head was able to obtain a court ruling prior to trial that no "refusal" evidence was allowed to be considered by the jurors. B.F. did not testify, but the girlfriend did. Furthermore, an expert witness established that B.F.'s maximum blood alcohol level would have been around .035, with the small amount of alcohol that had been consumed, the passage of time since the drinking began, and his 175 pound body weight. The trial lasted for two full days. The jury deliberated for six minutes before acquitting B.F. of the DUI charge. He was convicted of the red light violation and fined $200.00 by Judge Gino Brogdon, who has now returned to private practice.
  • Pre-Trial Motions Help Block Prosecutor from proceeding on DUI at Trial; DUI Dismissed

    Practice Area:
    DUI and DWI
    Date:
    Apr 14, 1998
    Outcome:
    State's Loses Late Attempt to Amend its Accusation
    Description:
    J.P.P. was arrested for speeding, lane violation, no proof of insurance, driving without a license and DUI. His test results for two breath tests were 0.137 and 0.126. The officer indicated (at pre-trial motions) that all field tests were performed improperly. The case was called for trial, with pre-trial matters being heard just prior to jury selection. Due to a backlog of cases in this court, the trial date was over two years after the arrest date. After hearing evidence at a pre-trial motion hearing. Mr. Head moved to discharge and acquit J.P.P. on all charges. The basis for the motion was that the arresting officer erroneously wrote the five traffic citations showing J.P.P.’s middle name as his surname (last name). This error occurred due to the officer calling dispatch for a "license check" once J.P.P. said that he had left his license at home. The State requested a continuance until the next morning, so jurors were sent home. The State sought to amend the charges by filing a formal accusation to take the place of the five uniform traffic citations. The Defense successfully opposed this late amendment attempt inasmuch as all misdemeanor offenses MUST be "accused" within two years. No such accusation against J.P.P. --- in the correct name --- had been filed by the State within two years. After considering numerous cases and statutes supplied by the Defense, the trial court was compelled to dismiss, fully and totally, all charges, with no chance for the State to reinstate criminal charges. J.P.P. was completely exonerated of the charges. J.P.P. had a prior DUI conviction, and faced significant punishment if he lost the case.
  • Repeat DUI Offender Runs Afoul of Law - Flaws in Evidence Help Mr. Head Get Charges Reduced

    Practice Area:
    DUI and DWI
    Date:
    Oct 09, 1997
    Outcome:
    Announced "Ready" for Trial; DUI Dismissed
    Description:
    The Defendant, T.M., had only been back in town for a week, having been relocated to the Atlanta area by his employer. He had previously lived in the Atlanta area before moving away at his employer’s request. He was extremely happy to be home and had plans to catch up with many of his old buddies. One night, he invited some of them over to his newly purchased home. After visiting a short time, they departed for Chili’s on Barrett Parkway. At this point, it was about 8:00 p.m.. Over dinner they each consumed a couple of 22-ounce beers and then went to another friend’s house in Acworth at around 10:00 p.m.. There, T.M. had 2 Coors Light beers. Following that, T.M. went to meet other friends at Player’s Billiards on Windy Hill Road at around 11:30 p.m.. They shot a couple of games of pool and each drank a couple of beers. The two men stayed until the pool room closed and even lingered in the parking lot for a while after the closing. On his way home, T.M. was stopped at the traffic light. When the light turned green, T.M. had “punched it” in order to get around the truck next to him. Following the quick acceleration, T.M. saw headlights “that came out of nowhere” right behind him, followed by flashing blue lights. T.M. knew, at this point, that he was being pulled over for his driving behavior. When the officer asked T.M. if he had been drinking, T.M. replied he had had about 7 beers over about a 6-hour period. The officer then had T.M. blow into a hand-held Alco-sensor. He then asked T.M. to perform a series of five field sobriety tests, and then blow into the breathalyzer once more. T.M. registered “positive” on the Alco-sensor both times. The officer then placed T.M. under arrest for DUI. He blew a 0.108% and a 0.105% on his two breath tests on the Intoxilyzer 5000 at the police station. Mr. Head's investigation of the case revealed that although one officer made the traffic stop, a different officer had administered the standardized field sobriety tests. This officer had also attempted to read T.M. his implied consent warnings, but made errors in the reading of the advisements. The case was scheduled for trial at Smyrna Municipal Court, the initial arresting officer did not appear. Under OCGA Section 17-4-23, the arresting oficer is needed for trial, if the legality of the traffic stop is challenged (which it was in this case). Because T.M. had a prior history of previous DUI convictions, risking trial was not a desirable option. After going over some evidentiary issues with the prosecutor, Mr. Head was able to get the DUI dropped. T.M. was required to complete a 28-day in-house alcohol treatment program to reduce the DUI charge to reckless driving. He never had to go to jail (with his history, a 90 day sentence would have been a "light" sentence), was able to keep his driver's license, but had to perform 80 hours of community service and pay over $900.00 in fines.
  • 0.163% and 0.157 % Breath Test Results Do Not Prevent Trial Victory; Not Guilty to Marietta DUI

    Practice Area:
    DUI and DWI
    Date:
    Aug 14, 1997
    Outcome:
    Trial Requires Precise Handling to Defeat DUI
    Description:
    After a tough day as a computer consultant, S.M. went home and took a nap until 10:45 p.m.. S.M. was originally from India, and was working in the United States on a work visa. Later that evening a female friend (who was also from India) came over to his house and they drank some wine. They left home and went to Wal-Mart for a few minutes. When leaving the brightly lighted parking lot, S.M. didn't realize he had forgotten to turn on his headlights. S.M. and his friend were looking for an ATM machine to procure some cash while on their way to Cub Foods for some late night snacks. Due to not being familiar with the area, he was driving hesitantly, using his brakes a good deal of the time. The street was also well illuminated, so S.M. didn't realize his headlights were off until he saw a Marietta Police Officer behind him. S.M. turned his lights on when he saw the blue lights, and pulled into the turn-only lane of Cobb-Parkway. The officer retrieved his license and insurance card and asked S.M. to get out of the car. S.M. apologized to the officer for not having his lights on, and the officer immediately asked him if he was drunk. S.M. replied no but that he had 3 glasses of wine. The officer then administered the Alco-sensor breath device, the heel-to-toe test and then asked him to recite the alphabet from A to Z. This was done in the center lane of Cobb Parkway with traffic going by in both directions. S.M. was handcuffed and arrested for DUI. His friend was not comfortable driving this car with a manual transmission, so S.M. had the officer take $20 out of his wallet so she could take a cab home. S.M. was taken to the police station. The officer gave S.M. another field test, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, at the station. This should have been performed at the site to help establish probable cause for arrest. S.M. then took the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath test at the station, giving two samples. His results were 0.163 and 0.157 grams %. Despite having no videotape in this case, our investigation of the case led to numerous defenses in the case. Under cross-examination at the trial, we proved that S.M. was not properly read his implied consent rights. S.M. had a gastric condition that has been proven to cause inaccurate readings on state-administered breath tests. By way of requiring that the officer repeat for the Judge at trial the exact instructions and demonstration of the standardized field tests, Mr. Head was able to point out that the officer failed to give S.M. proper instructions for the “walk and turn” field sobriety test. Although detailed instructions are mandated, S.M. was merely instructed to walk heel to toe for 13 paces. Furthermore, at trial, we were able to show that his rights (regarding the State requirement to take the breath test or to refuse it) were not properly read to S.M., resulting in exclusion of the .163% and .157 % blood alcohol content test results in the middle of the trial. At the conclusion of the bench trial, S.M. was found not guilty of the DUI charges. He was found guilty of weaving and paid a fine of $108.00. Also, prior to trial, we had admitted his lack of headlights and pleaded no contest to this offense ($84.00 fine). Marietta attorney Ray Gary, Jr., was acting as the pro hac vice judge for the regular judge, Roger Rozen.
  • Video from Police Car Captures Cadillac Traveling at 93 m.p.h. and Constantly Changing Lanes; DUI Charges - Not Guilty

    Practice Area:
    DUI and DWI
    Date:
    Jul 15, 1997
    Outcome:
    Despite High Speed along I-285, Not Guilty to DUI
    Description:
    A military officer who had served as a helicopter pilot in Desert Storm was en route to Atlanta Airport to pick up an incoming passenger when he was observed speeding by a DUI task force officer traveling south on I-285. The military officer was traveling between 90 and 93 miles per hour and continuously changing lanes. This driving was captured on video for nearly two miles, but the pilot did use turn signals with each lane change. Furthermore, he was leaving adequate distance between the cars as he maneuvered toward the Atlanta Airport. Eventually, the blue lights were activated and he was pulled over. The speed limit along I-285 was 55 m.p.h., so the speeding charge was not being contested. However, for a Captain in the military, a DUI can be career-ending. So, the fight to win the DUI was on. Mr. Head opted for a "bench" trial (non-jury trial in this case, because he feared that a jury might not be able to excuse the high speed driving and say "not guilty" to the DUI charge. Also, the assigned judge was known for his fairness at trials, whether a jury was selected or not. The breath test result was slightly under 0.10, which (at that time) was the per se legal limit. Therefore, the Prosecution was only proceeding on the "less safe" DUI (too impaired to drive safely). Mr. Head's efforts to obtain a non-DUI disposition were rejected, primarily due to the high speed driving. On the video, the pilot declined the officer's request to perform the walk and turn and the one leg stand evaluations due to recent surgery on his Achilles tendon. In fact, the pilot advised the officer that he was on medical furlough for the surgery. Because the only other screening evaluations were the Alco-sensor (positive for alcohol) and the HGN evaluation (four of six clues), the evidence was "borderline" at best. However, the DUI task force officer was a regular witness in all the courts in Dekalb County State Court, so Mr. Head knew that the officer was going to express his "opinion" that the pilot was "too impaired to drive safely". So, the decision was made by Mr. Head to have the Defendant take the witness stand for purposes of testifying. Predictably, the DUI officer did his best to make his case for impairment. Then, Mr. Head called the Defendant to testify that despite his speeding and lane changes, that he was always in control of the situation. The pilot explained that his combat training in an attack helicopter had greatly enhanced his reaction times and ability to multi-task while operating any piece of machinery. He also admitted having wine with dinner, but indicated that the small quantity had not rendered him "incapable of driving safely." Mr. Head also called an expert on field sobriety tests, Bill Taylor, who confirmed that (at best) the HGN evaluation could only tell the court that 77% of test subjects who reveal 4 or more "cues" (or "clues") had BAC levels of 0.10 or higher, and (from the State breath test results), the number was actually less than 0,10. Plus, Mr. Taylor verified that 4 of 6 clues had never been correlated to "impairment" by Dr. Marcelline Burns and the researchers at the Southern California Research Institute. Judge Jack Smith listened carefully to all the evidence and (in summarizing his finding of "not guilty" to the DUI) recounted his own military service in World War II, when he piloted a B-17 bomber that flew from England over Germany. He agreed that the enhanced training the he received greatly increased his reaction times, and his ability to handle multiple complex tasks that others would find impossible to master. He said that because the State had to prove that the helicopter pilot was impaired by alcohol to such an extent that he was a "less safe" driver due to the effects of alcohol, that the burden of proof had not been met because the video showed flawless maneuvering through traffic, and the use of turn signals with every lane change. The officer's career was saved.