Ryan Quaale is a four-time felon that was previously involved in a car crash that killed a two-year-old. The 38-year-old was on trial again recently for an unrelated DUI charge that resulted in a police car chase. Due to some improper questioning at Quaale's trial of a Washington State Patrol Trooper, Quaale may get a third trial to argue his defense, reports The Spokesman-Review.
During the trial, prosecutors asked the trooper who arrested him whether Quaale was impaired. Quaale's defense attorney objected to the line of questioning. However, the judge allowed the question to stand and the trooper testified that "absolutely" Quaale was impaired. The jury ultimately returned a verdict for felony drunk driving.
Quaale appealed the verdict claiming that an expert witness like the Washington State Trooper may only offer opinions to help a jury. Quaale argued that the trooper went too far stating that Quaale was absolutely impaired. A panel of appellate judges unanimously agreed with Quaale and sent the case back to Superior Court as the government's case relied solely on the trooper's testimony.
Generally, an expert witness at a criminal trial cannot testify to an ultimate fact like whether someone is guilty or not. In addition, an expert generally cannot couch his opinion in the form of a scientific conclusion that leaves little room for the jury to assess. In this case, the trooper said that Quaale was "absolutely" impaired. At that point, the jury had little choice but to accept his conclusion. And this is improper.
Fighting a DUI charge can be difficult. While prosecutors bear the burden of proof, they may have a distinct advantage over inexperienced defendants who do not understand the rules of evidence and fighting a DUI charge in court. That's why it is important to work with experienced advocates like the Seattle DUI defense attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense.
At our firm, we have a former prosecutor who understands the strategies and tricks that the government will use. In helping you defend your case, we will ensure that your rights are represented and that your protections are not violated. To learn more about how we can assist you, call us at 425-284-2000.