Since 2008, the lawyers of Robertson Law have taken a leading role in fighting major legal challenges in Washington State. It is an important distinction that sets us apart from other firms.
Major Court Challenges to Breath Alcohol Testing and Sobriety Testing
In 2015 Ryan filed "amicus" briefs on behalf of the Washington Foundation for Criminal Justice in two court cases challenging the admissibility of breath alcohol evidence and sobriety test evidence.
In State v. Mecham, (Case No. 90598-3) Ryan argued that the standardized sobriety tests commonly used in Washington State DUI investigations invades constitutional privacy protections requiring law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant before administering the tests. Furthermore, if a person refuses to perform the tests, absent a warrant the refusal cannot be used as evidence at trial.
Here is the link to Ryan's amicus brief which was filed with the State Supreme Court. http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/Briefs/A08/90598-3%20Amicus%20(amended)-%20WA%20Foundation%20for%20Criminal%20Justice.pdf
In State v. Baird-Adams, (Case No. 90418-7) Ryan argued that the breath alcohol test administered in Washington State (i.e. DataMaster) also constitutes an invasion of constitutionally protected privacy requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant before administering the test. Furthermore, if a person refuses to perform the test, absent a warrant the refusal cannot be used as evidence at trial. Ryan was subsequently asked to present oral argument and appeared before the State Supreme Court on May 12, 2015.
Here is the link to Ryan's amicus brief which was filed with the State Supreme Court.http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/Briefs/A08/90419-7%20Amicus%20-%20WA%20Foundation%20for%20Criminal%20Justice.pdf
Here is the link to the oral argument in Baird-Adams. http://www.tvw.org/index.php?option=com_tvwplayer&eventID=2015050011
Supreme Court Limits Officer Opinion Testimony on DUI Cases
In 2014 Ryan filed an "amicus" brief to the State Supreme Court on behalf of the Washington Foundation for Criminal Justice arguing that the Court must restrict law enforcement testimony regarding certain kinds of sobriety testing to ensure DUI defendants receive a fair trial. A common sobriety test performed during a DUI investigation is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN). Law enforcement officers and prosecutors attempt to use the results of this test to establish the officer's opinion a driver is impaired. In the case State v. Quaale, 182 Wn.2d 191 (2014), the Supreme Court agreed with Ryan's analysis that the results of the HGN test may not be used to directly establish an opinion of impairment.
"Here, the testimony in question is distinguishable from that in Heatley because Trooper Stone's opinion was based solely on the HGN test, which is expert testimony subject to our decision in Baity. As has been explained, the HGN test can indicate the presence of alcohol in a suspect but it cannot establish impairment. In contrast, the officer in Heatley based his testimony on observations of the defendant, such as the defendant's unsteady balance, the defendant's bloodshot eyes, and the odor of alcohol on the defendant's breath. A lay witness may express an opinion on another person's intoxication when the witness had the opportunity to observe the affected person. Id. at 580, 854 P.2d 658. Unlike the officer in Heatley, Trooper Stone based his opinion on expert and not lay testimony, and in doing so, he gave impermissible opinion testimony that constituted an improper opinion on guilt. This improper opinion on guilt violated Mr. Quaale's constitutional right to have a fact critical to his guilt determined by the jury."
State v. Quaale, 182 Wn.2d 191 (2014).
Here is the link to Ryan's amicus brief which was filed with the State Supreme Court. http://www.courts.wa.gov/content/Briefs/A08/89666-6%20Brief%20Amicus%20Curiae%20of%20Washington%20Foundation%20for%20Criminal%20Justice.pdf
Equal Protection Challenge - Victory in Division One
In 2011, Ryan filed a challenge in the Court of Appeals to Washington's 2009 statute which now requires drivers to waive their right to appeal a license suspension in order to obtain a limited license to drive called an "ignition interlock license." The appeal alleges that this law violates due process and equal protection rights of drivers, who must make the Hobson's choice to forego their right of judicial review to obtain the privilege to drive once their license is suspended. A decision was published by the Court of Appeals, Division One, on September 30, 2013. You can read the Court's published opinion HERE.
Here is Ryan's appeal brief which was filed with Division One: