Erwyn Freeman v. State of Mississippi
In the Supreme Court of Mississippi; 2012-KM-00192-SCT
As anyone that might know anything about DUI law in the State of Mississippi probably knows (especially those most unfortunate enough to be charged and/or convicted of one), DUI’s are almost impossible to defend against- and it is even more improbable that upon appeal, the conviction for one will be overturned. At Coxwell & Associates, however, we don’t speak “impossible”…. and view improbable as a welcome challenge.
Such was the case in the DUI conviction of Dr. Erwyn Freeman in the Madison County Justice Court in March, 2009. Upon appeal to the County, as there are no statutory discovery rules in Justice Court, I requested that the prosecution preserve the patrol vehicle’s audio/video of the traffic stop and arrest, which contained exculpatory evidence that would undoubtedly exonerate my client. The video showed Dr. Freeman talking and walking normally. The video also showed that the officer was going to let Dr. Freeman go. The State agreed to the request, and the appeal was set for hearing before the Madison County Court in May, 2009. Soon thereafter, however, the prosecution requested a continuance due to the arresting officer being activated for military duty overseas; naturally, we agreed, yet again with the proviso that the video evidence be preserved for trial, clearly stating that should any evidence be destroyed, specifically the video, Dr. Freeman did not waive any of his rights. Again, the prosecution agreed, and the trial was re-set for approximately nine (9) months later. In preparation for the upcoming trial, I requested discovery of and from the State in August, 2009, at which time it was disclosed in response that the video had “been accidentally destroyed”. Naturally, I immediately filed a Motion to Dismiss, which was denied by the County Court judge, and at trial in January, 2010, as expected and contrary to the argument made on his behalf, Dr. Freeman was found guilty as charged of DUI and careless driving.
Determined to continue to fight for my client, I immediately filed a Notice of Appeal with the Madison County Circuit Xourt. After both parties filed court briefs, the Circuit Court Judge riles against us. We then filed an appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Briefs were filed by both parties and finally, on May 30, 2013, the Court ruled in a unanimous opinion that without the key objective audio/video evidence the State had been ordered to preserve, Dr. Freeman was unable to present a complete defense without this evidentiary support- reversing and remanding Dr. Freeman’s DUI conviction, which was of course a huge victory for our client.
However well fought, the battle was not over, not quite yet; the State, refusing to go down without exhausting every last effort it had, moved forward with a last-ditch effort, filing a motion with the Court in August, 2013 to obtain re-hearing of the matters presented upon appeal. Despite their effort, the Court refused to budge, finally denying the State’s motion on October 3, 2013, and affirming their former decision to reverse and remand Dr. Freeman’s DUI conviction.
As defense attorneys, undoubtedly the very best advice we can provide clients regarding the decision to drink and drive remains the same, always: NEVER, under any circumstances get behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcohol. However, as Dr. Freeman and countless other clients we have represented in this area can personally attest to, our firm WILL go to the mat for our clients, blow for blow, until the final bell has been rung in order to achieve the very best results possible.