In a stunning setback to defense lawyers defending Indianapolis police office David Bisard, an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling set Bisard’s prosecution for drunk driving back on track after a preliminary dismissal of dui related charges.
The initial ruling of state judge Grant Hawkins within Marion County I believe correctly interpreted state statutes within a literal context as to who will be qualified to draw blood within dui investigations. The Indiana state code is quite clear from a literal reading as to the professional standing of one required to draw blood from a dui suspect so as to preserve such evidence’s later admissibility within an Indiana court of law.
Like in many national debates as to strict constructionism of the US constitution versus the more activist approach of interpreting laws by what the framers intended, the present appellate court decision leaves plenty for debate.
As an Indiana dui lawyer I would contend that the appellate court did not need to interpret and in turn expand recognition of recognized professionals to draw blood based upon an interpretation of what state legislators had intended. Rather, a present reading of the blood draw statute(s) is quite clear. Simply put, the alleged individual who drew Bisard’s blood was not in fact specifically recognized by statute as a qualified professional such to utilize the blood results within the context of an Indiana dui prosecution.
Of course where the political pressure of the moment becomes interjected within a recurring news story, case law is often made that does not follow the most logical of forms. Lead by former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard, the appellate court in this case ruled within the context of media outlets nationwide perched to decry Indiana allowing one within law enforcement to “get off” on what would be spouted as a legal technicality.
No one may ever truly know the political considerations or safeguarding of public perception as to the justice system within Indiana that went into this appellate court decision. For a conservative state, it does seem somewhat incongruous for the appellate court to be willing to broaden the definition of qualified witnesses for the prosecution than that clearly and specifically enunciated by state statute.
Further, unlike other appellate cases open for review to the Indiana Supreme Court, defense attorney’s in Bisard’s defense I believe to be additionally burdened by the reality that a supreme court ruling reversing the decision of a former chief justice of that very court would work against a favorable outcome on continued appeal.
As a retired Chief Justice, Indiana has a legal structure of review that allows for the former chief justice to hear cases presented to the appellate court. As a legal subject of review, I further question the efficacy of such an arrangement that presents true questions as to how objective the supreme court can become in rendering sound decisions counter to the rulings of the former chief justice.
In any event, there will no doubt be continued scrutiny as to the latest legal developments in this ever unfolding case. I would anticipate that defense lawyers for Bisard do not intend for Shepard’s ruling to be the last word on the matter as the next battleground for the admissibility of the blood evidence in question I expect to be before the Indiana Supreme Court.