For those of us who try cases, one of the most critical things in terms of trying a case is picking the jury. It is crucial to obtain as much information about prospective jurors as possible. Painstakingly reviewing the jury questionnaires prior to the jury selection is imperative. In fact using social media it is easy to plug an individual’s name into the various social media applications and a simple google search and glean information about that juror. Failure to go through this exercise could seriously impact an attorney’s ability to knowledgeably strike the jury.
Simply because you are charged with operating while under the influence of an intoxicant in Wisconsin does not mean that you are guilty. In any case, the government has the burden of establishing each fact to a high degree of proof. In all criminal cases, it is beyond a reasonable doubt. You can either agree to relieve the government of that burden by pleading guilty, or hold the government to their burden by aggressively defending your case.
Questions frequently arise regarding whether or not an individual who has been suspended or revoked in another state can get licensed in Wisconsin. Normally, if you have an out of state license, and some action has been taken against your license your home state, Wisconsin will require you to have that action cleared and be reinstated in that state before you can be licensed in Wisconsin. In this type of a case, it is very important to consult an attorney in both states to determine the ramifications of that action. It is important to be proactive, that is to understand the consequences before entering any plea to a charge in any state.
60 Minutes recently ran a segment on “Invisible wounds of war”
that dealt with the traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and very real post-traumatic stress our veterans suffer as a result of combat. In Wisconsin, this issue needs to be brought to the forefront with courts considering Veteran’s Treatment Court for veterans who are charged with OWI and have mental health issues related to Post Traumatic Street Disorder (PTSD).
Unfortunately, many courts and prosecutors are not aware of the very real difficulties that occur with PTSD. Prosecutors seem unwilling in many situations to recommend Veteran’s Treatment Court inasmuch as their belief is that it somehow mitigates potential punishment. Veteran’s Treatment Court is an option in multiple OWI situations. Veterans who have received a civil or criminal operating while under the influence of intoxicant charge and who have been diagnosed with PTSD, in many cases have significant issues relating to alcohol that should be addressed in a setting other than confinement.
Too often, prosecutors seem to make simple guideline recommendations. Their actions seem to suggest that every case should fall into some neatly wrapped punishment package. I feel it is important to begin the process of educating courts and prosecutors regarding the Veteran’s Treatment Court options that are available in Wisconsin. In addition, as defense attorneys, we need to begin the process of educating prosecutors and courts alike on the symptoms and diagnoses of PTSD and other brain injury disorders related to military service. Hopefully, with a little education, the courts and prosecutors will start to see that Veterans Treatment Court is a viable option to help our veterans gain the necessary treatment to help them to live alcohol free in society.
- PTSD/TBI: Invisible Wounds and the Trillion Dollar Medical Blunder (salem-news.com)