In Ulloa v. CMI, the Florida Supreme Court recently weighed in on an important issue for anyone facing a DUI charge in Florida.
Mr. Ulloa and other criminal defendants were charged with DUI in Florida under various circumstances, each of which included failed breathalyzer tests. The defendants sought to prevent the breathalyzer test results from being entered in each of their trials. They also requested computer source codes for the equipment involved in each of their cases from technology manufacturer CMI, a Kentucky-based corporation. The defendants claimed that the codes were relevant to their defense that the breathalyzers weren’t accurate. They served a registered agent for the company in Florida with subpoenas for the source codes, information the court later explained was located outside of the state.
Following litigation at the trial court level, the Florida Court of Appeals for the Fifth District ruled that the defendants were required to follow the procedures laid out in the Uniform Law to Secure the Attendance of Witnesses from Within or Without a State in Criminal Proceedings in seeking the information. Finding that the defendants didn’t satisfy these requirements, the appeals court ruled that the subpoenas should be quashed.
The state supreme court agreed on further appeal. The court explained that the Uniform Law, codified in Chapter 942, Florida Statutes, provides that an out of state witness may be summoned to testify in Florida if a state judge issues a sealed certificate to the court in the state where the witness is located asserting that the person is a “material witness” in a Florida proceeding. The appropriate state court then reviews the document and determines whether to issue a subpoena requiring the witness to appear in Florida.
The supreme court found that the Uniform Law applies not only to subpoenas for out of state witnesses, but also those requiring witnesses to produce evidence located outside Florida. “[W]e hold that the procedures of the Uniform Law apply even when the subpoena involved is a subpoena duces tecum seeking a witness to only produce documents,” the court said. “This holding is consistent with the common usage of the term ‘subpoena’ and with the interpretation of other states, which this court considers when interpreting a statute modeled after a uniform law.” Noting that the defendants here didn’t claim that they had satisfied the Uniform Law’s requirements, the high court said the subpoenas were properly quashed.
Evidence issues like this can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal in a Florida criminal case, particularly those in which it’s largely a police officer’s word against that of the person charged. It is vital that a person facing criminal charges in the Sunshine State seek the advice and counsel of an experienced lawyer who knows what evidence to look for and how to get it. The South Florida criminal defense attorneys at Anidjar & Levine are experienced in handling Florida DUI and a wide range of other cases. We consistently provide high quality representation to clients all over Florida, including in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Pompano Beach.
Related blog posts: