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Report underscores one key criminal defense responsibility

When police officers and prosecutors state that what they assert in a criminal law matter is the flat-out truth and that there is absolutely no doubt about it, there's no need for a criminal defendant and his or her defense counsel to question anything, is there?

Given such assurances, individuals in Tennessee and elsewhere across the country who are accused of criminal behavior should simply accept that the facts are precisely as stated and that there is no point in wasting time or energy checking their veracity.

Except, well …

We ask readers of our blog posts at the proven Nashville criminal defense firm of Thomas T. Overton to consider today the material details in a recent media report focused upon drunk driving convictions. Although the story has its origin in another state, we submit that it commands clear relevance in Tennessee and all across the United States.

The bottom line: High numbers of Intoxilyzer 9000 breath-testing machines centrally featuring in cases where individuals were convicted of DUI based upon breathalyzer evidence were deemed accurate by non-technicians who fraudulently certified them over a period of years.

That's right. The evidence taken from them indicating a threshold blood-alcohol limit was material in obtaining criminal convictions, notwithstanding that its certified accuracy in legions of cases owed to nothing more than forged signatures.

Reportedly, 130 fraudulent certificates have been discovered, with the prospect that more might be found.

Such a thing is immediately alarming and depressing to any person who is concerned with fundamental fairness playing out in the criminal justice system, whether that individual's rights are directly implicated or not.

And it patently underscores this central need in every criminal defense representation: the exacting and no-exceptions approach that an experienced defense attorney must always take to ensure that criminal authorities prove each criminal charge that they allege beyond a reasonable doubt.

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