JJS, a 30-year-old truck driver with a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), was charged with OUI. The circumstances behind the arrest were bizarre: the State Police arrived to a scene where a tow-truck was stuck in a ditch. Standing next to the truck was a man named Steve. Steve was a tow-truck driver; employed by the company that owned the truck that was in the ditch. When asked by the trooper if he had been driving the tow-truck, Steve said “no, it was JJS. He’s back at the garage.” The trooper told Steve to go to the garage and retrieve JJS. Steve did so; he brought JJS to the scene. When asked by the trooper, JJS told the trooper multiple times that he was drunk multiple and that he had been “drinking and driving all night.” JJS was arrested. He took a breath test, the results of which were 0.15. Lastly, JJS told the trooper that Steve had assaulted (punched) him just before bringing him to the scene.
Attorney Henry Fasoldt filed a Motion to Suppress the incriminating statements. The motion was denied.
JJS had no choice but to go to trial. A conviction (or a Continuance Without a Finding) for OUI triggers an automatic 1-year loss of a CDL.
A rule of law exists that holds the following: an uncorroborated confession to a crime is not enough to obtain a conviction. This was the guiding principle in Henry’s preparation for this trial. Without Steve’s testimony, the Commonwealth would have a difficult time showing any corroboration to JJS’ statements.
Henry anticipated that the Commonwealth would summons Steve to testify. However; Steve exercised his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. In other words, he did not testify because doing so would have exposed him to possible criminal charges. What, you ask, was the basis for that? Well, there was evidence that Steve assaulted JJS; an admission on the record to punching JJS could have resulted in a charge of Assault and Battery for Steve.
So, at the jury-waived trial, all of JJS’ statements were introduced into evidence. After the Commonwealth finished putting on its case Henry moved for a Required Finding of Not Guilty. He supplied the judge with a memorandum of law and the case-on-point which articulates the “uncorroborated confession” rule. The judge agreed – and, as a matter of law the judge was required to find JJS Not Guilty.