A Broward prosecutor has been fired for failing to process 177 DUI cases against suspected drunk drivers who were injured in an accident and taken to the hospital instead of jail.
Assistant State Attorney Dave Weigel, a courtroom veteran of 29 years, was let go from the Broward State Attorney's office for failing to process those DUI cases, as well as 116 county ordinance violations between 1997 and 2011. SAO spokesperson Ron Ishoy tells New Times that the DUI cases weren't processed because of the complications from getting evidence from an injured suspect.
"The reason that these DUI not-in-custody forms exist is that they are for those DUI suspect motorists injured in a crash," Ishoy explains. "Those folks are not arrested at the scene because they’re injured. And because they’re injured, police can’t ask them for a breath sample. So then we have to get blood from their hospital visit. But the law says we have to give them proper 10 day legal notice… and even then, they can ask for a hearing. So it takes some effort to file these."
As of right now, there are 177 DUI cases that were essentially discarded. but there might be more. In an email statement to the Justice Advocacy Association of Broward blog, SAO spokesperson Ron Ishoy said the staff is working to find out the exact number of cases.
Those who were involved in any of these cases need not worry about getting a callback – the statute of limitations for all cases has passed.
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In fact, “None of these cases were from arrested defendants,” Ishoy said. “These cases were presentments by police agencies for review. “
Ishoy also pointed out that the number of cases Weigel didn't process is a fraction of the cases the Broward SAO files every year.
“We discovered that the mishandled cases were from 1997 to 2011, an average of approximately 21 cases per year during that time span,” Weigel told the JAAB. “For perspective, in fiscal year 2013-14, the Broward State Attorney’s Office filed approximately 48,000 misdemeanor, criminal traffic, and DUIs.”
With a backlog like that, maybe Weigel was just trying to speed things along a bit? Apparently, the Broward SAO doesn't play that game.