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DUI cases in jeopardy after Richmond County deputy admits falsifying readings

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The forced resignation of a deputy assigned to the DUI task force could affect the prosecution of hundreds of cases, according to those in the legal community.

Erik Norman  Special
Special
Erik Norman


Erik Norman faced mandatory resignation from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 19 after a prosecutor reported that Norman told her he had falsified readings from a hand-held alcohol-testing device.

Norman told the department’s internal affairs division that he had done it only “once or twice” but couldn’t recall exactly which cases were involved.

Norman’s credibility is gone now, no matter how many times he falsified readings, said Augusta attorney Robert “Bo” Hunter, who prosecuted drunken driving cases as the Richmond County State Court solicitor from 1988 to 1996.

“He’s created a shadow of a doubt by falsifying evidence,” Hunter said. The only question a defense attorney would need to ask is: “Did you falsify other results?”

Even worse, Hunter said, is that there probably were people charged with driving under the influence who shouldn’t have been.

Norman, hired as a jailer in July 2002, was transferred to the DUI task force in March 2009. An accurate count of his DUI convictions cannot be made through court records, but during his time on the task force, he arrested an estimated 250 to 400 people.

State Court Solicitor Charles Evans said his office has 62 pending DUI cases in which Norman was the arresting officer. Each will have to be judged on its merits to determine whether to continue prosecuting them as DUIs. If necessary, the office will bring in Norman as a trial witness, Evans said.

The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Coun­cil is investigating to determine whether Norman can keep his certification, said Ryan Powell, its director of operations. Unless he is arrested on felony charges or his certification is suspended, Norman is free to work as an officer, Powell said.

Falsifying evidence is a felony – making false statements – but prosecuting Norman for it would be difficult, District Attorney Ashley Wright said. A prosecutor would have to prove in which case Norman falsified the results, and there is no way to uncover those cases without Norman’s admission. He claimed he didn’t know which cases were falsified.

Wright estimated her office has about a dozen pending cases in which Norman was the arresting officer.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he thought Norman was a good officer and cannot understand why he would alter a test that isn’t admissible in court.

Officers on the street can use the Alco-Sensor, a hand-held device that provides a fairly accurate reading, Powell said.

The real test that is admissible in court is the Intoxilyzer 5000, a medical test done at the station that is “extremely accurate,” Powell said. The people who run the tests have to be certified by the Georgia Bureau of Investi­gation. The Intoxilyzer machine is examined regularly to ensure its readings are accurate.

Though the results of Alco-Sensor aren’t admissible at trial, judges consider them when deciding whether to accept a plea deal, how much time someone will spend in jail, and whether extra conditions for probation are needed, Hunter said.

State Court Judge Da­vid Watkins said Alco-Sensor results are like polygraph results in that while not admissible during a trial, they are useful tools.

If a judge believes a person could have a problem with alcohol, in-patient or out-patient evaluation can be ordered – at the person’s expense. A judge can also order electronic alcohol monitoring that commands a $208 startup fee and costs $360 a month. A device that prohibits a person’s vehicle from operating if it detects alcohol costs $132 a month.

Those fees would be on top of the minimum $651 fine and surcharge for a first offense DUI, $528 probation fee, $280 for driving school and $210 fee for the state to reinstate a driver’s license.

Watkins said he doesn’t look forward to an avalanche of challenges from people arrested by Norman, but it would serve a greater good.

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Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 11/19/11 - 05:40 pm
0
0
I think anyone with a pending

I think anyone with a pending case should challenge. Officers should be truthful when dealing with people.

Riverman1
78408
Points
Riverman1 11/19/11 - 06:27 pm
0
0
This is how some posters

This is how some posters predicted things would progress.

The Alcosensor cannot be used as official evidence, but a judge is given the results before the individual is sentenced. Yeah, buddy. It sounds like State Court Judge Watkins gets it.

Who doesn't get it is Ashley Wright. From the article:

"Falsifying evidence is a felony crime – making false statements – but prosecuting Norman for it would be difficult, said District Attorney Ashley Wright. A prosecutor would have to prove in which case Norman falsified the results, and there is no way to uncover those cases without Norman’s admission. He claimed he didn’t know which cases were falsified."

It is against the law, a felony crime, to lie to government officials. If a police officer lying about matters that could send someone to jail and those lies are presented in court with no criminal consequences, why do we even have this law? What's wrong with Ashley Wright? This man needs to be locked up. Where is Austin's with his outrage now?

Riverman1
78408
Points
Riverman1 11/19/11 - 06:40 pm
0
0
If this man is not charged

If this man is not charged for his criminal actions, I'm going to puke.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 11/19/11 - 06:49 pm
0
0
Yep Riverman, I agree there

Yep Riverman, I agree there should be some punishment other than a resignation. He should at least not be allowed to continue to hold certification.

Riverman1
78408
Points
Riverman1 11/19/11 - 06:57 pm
0
0
Patty, he not only deserves

Patty, he not only deserves criminal charges against him, he should be sued in civil court by many of the people he arrested for DUI.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 11/19/11 - 07:05 pm
0
0
I agree but I doubt they

I agree but I doubt they would pursue this any further (as far as bringing charges against the officer). Those falsely charged would probably have to pursue it.

charliemanson
1
Points
charliemanson 11/19/11 - 10:50 pm
0
0
I guess the folks running the

I guess the folks running the Jail Report got a lot of apologizing to do, now.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 11/19/11 - 10:50 pm
0
0
charlie....that's why it

charlie....that's why it bothers me so to see someone being falsely accused. He gets to resign, the person(s) he lied on have had much more to deal with. Riverman is right about it being criminal.

bclicious
604
Points
bclicious 11/19/11 - 11:39 pm
0
0
Hey guys, this guy will get

Hey guys, this guy will get his in more way then 1:

1. "IF" the DA decides to pick up the case, then he will face criminal charges.

2. His law enforcement career is finished forever.

3. Yes, he is definitely subject to civil penalties; however, that depends on whether or not anyone decides to sue him.

4. Everyone in the CSRA knows what this guy did; therefore, his reputation is ruined.

I'm sure there will be some other unforseen side-effects.

Don't worry guys, Karma is ruthless.

dstewartsr
20388
Points
dstewartsr 11/19/11 - 11:46 pm
0
0
'...Sheriff Ronnie Strength

'...Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he thought Norman was a good officer..."

In his department, all things being relative, he probably is.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 11/19/11 - 11:48 pm
0
0
bclicious...I doubt the DA

bclicious...I doubt the DA will pursue the case. He can't face any civil penalties without knowing which cases he falsified test results on. And at this point I doubt very seriously he would reveal which cases even if he does remember.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 11/20/11 - 03:59 am
0
0
To whom is Norman

To whom is Norman related?

Who provided/ is providing him legal representation?

Above are two questions whose answers could take us far in understanding the disposition of this former deputy's case.

bclicious
604
Points
bclicious 11/20/11 - 05:38 am
0
0
Patty-P, you are wrong, "He

Patty-P, you are wrong, "He can't face any civil penalties without knowing which cases he falsified test results on"

It doesn't matter what he knows or doesn't know. All of this guy's cases are subject to dismissal. If I am an individual who was subject to a DUI conviciton from this guy, and it was based more on testimony then hard evidence, I will take this guy to the bank.

bclicious
604
Points
bclicious 11/20/11 - 05:40 am
0
0
GOOD POSTING MYFATHER15

GOOD POSTING MYFATHER15

Riverman1
78408
Points
Riverman1 11/20/11 - 08:11 am
0
0
BClicious, I know you are a

BClicious, I know you are a police officer and I appreciate your honesty here. Thanks for your law enforcement service and your former military service in Iraq. We need more people like you willing to do the right thing.

Riverman1
78408
Points
Riverman1 11/20/11 - 08:21 am
0
0
Myfather15, good post. I'll

Myfather15, good post. I'll point out a few items though. He could be charged under the Georgia law that says lying to government officials is a criminal offense. There is the judge in Georgia facing that charge.

Even though the evidence is not admissible in court, Norman was in effect lying to the DA's office, the Sheriff's Office and to the court members since his falsified Alcosensor results would be presented to the judge before sentencing and that was obviously done to get the defendant a harsher sentence.

There is another area here to consider. You don't have to be over the limit on the Intoxilyzer to be charged with DUI. If you pass it, but the officer said you were driving funny, acting funny or something and then said on the Alcosensor test you were high, THAT would influence the DA whether to pursue you for DUI. That's clearly lying to officers of the court and an obvious crime under Georgia law. He needs to be criminally prosecuted and sued by those he has harmed.

justus4
97
Points
justus4 11/20/11 - 09:57 am
0
0
Guess the citizens whom were
Unpublished

Guess the citizens whom were victims of this corrupt cop? Guess his punishment for the lives destroyed by his lying? Guess the segment of citizens who believe that his lying is commonplace and institutionalized? Guess who knows that there are others within that operation that practice identical behavior? Guess who believe that such falsifications are targeted toward a specific group of Americans? Guess the group of Americans who believe/know failing to prosecute such corruption will do greater harm to society and further erode the little trust left in the judicial system? Guess who believes that NOT sending this guy to jail is a breach of public trust requiring resignation? Guess who believe/know that this guy's corruption was "learned behavior" because he saw others do it? Yep, nothing new here except the tip of the spear, in terms of (sworn) illegal & corrupt individuals who reflect poorly on their co-workers, their agencies, their city, their state, and ultimately the US.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 11/20/11 - 11:12 am
0
0
Great post myfather15. My

Great post myfather15. My thought is that he may have lied on the other field tests too just to justify an arrest. If they pass the other field tests, perhaps he changed the alcosensor tests so he could detain them. Please clarify how that would work. A poster above says you are a cop. If so, are the field tests recorded entirely on the dash cam?

bclicious...I'm not a lawyer. But I'm not sure that anyone could sue unless they know specifically which cases he lied on. If they can prove he lied/falsified a report, they would have a good case. It may be reason for many of the cases to be dismissed but suing him may recquire a little more investigation.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 11/20/11 - 10:31 am
0
0
They keep making field

They keep making field sobriety tests harder and harder so they can increase arrests; it’s all been captured on video.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4358835060353125392#

Riverman1
78408
Points
Riverman1 11/20/11 - 10:38 am
0
0
BJ, I wouldn't do a field

BJ, I wouldn't do a field sobriety test even if I hadn't had a drink. It has to be unconstitutional some doggone way to make someone do all that. Course, I may dance the Texas Two Step down the imaginary line for the heck of it. The cop can have his imaginary line and I'll have mine.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 11/20/11 - 10:42 am
0
0
bjphysics....hilarious video.

bjphysics....hilarious video.

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 11/20/11 - 10:43 am
0
0
When the sheriff starts using
Unpublished

When the sheriff starts using special "task forces" with their attendant quotas, this is what happens. Why not assign every officer to road patrol and broaden the presence of officers. I dare say looking at the penaltys, someones brother-in-law is sure making a whopping profit. But I am sure none of the profits are being sent to the princes of power. The issue with the Judges use of evidence (alco-meter) is a prime example support for the lawyer community by the judge - if you spend the thousands for legal advice you are not guilty, if you don't then you are. We are a country of laws - yeah.

daphne3520
950
Points
daphne3520 11/20/11 - 10:59 am
0
0
Show me a cop who ain't on
Unpublished

Show me a cop who ain't on "the take," and I'll show you a cop that doesn't eat donuts.

bjphysics
36
Points
bjphysics 11/20/11 - 11:00 am
0
0
For field sobriety tests,

For field sobriety tests, always keep your smart phone handy:

zyxwvutsrqponomlkjihgfedcba

jrbfromga
426
Points
jrbfromga 11/20/11 - 11:45 am
0
0
Posters, though you might be
Unpublished

Posters, though you might be disgusted and offended by this officer's actions, his lies didn't result in anyone wrongly convicted of DUI. The handheld device is inadmissible in court. The official court-admissible record from the Intoxilyzer is a printout that can't be manipulated.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 11/20/11 - 11:56 am
0
0
jrbfromga....then what

jrbfromga....then what purpose did it serve for him to falsify the test results? And if he falsified that, what other reports did he falsify? Maybe it didn't stop at just DUI's.

lawwatcher
0
Points
lawwatcher 11/20/11 - 01:08 pm
0
0
Why Falsify? Ego would be my

Why Falsify? Ego would be my guess. The "I'am Above the Law" mentality prevalent in LE. A close second would be the pressure put on these Officers on the DUI Task Force to make arrests. There may not be an official quota but it is there. Regardless, RCSO is loaded with similar characters, The Stench goes RIGHT TO THE TOP!

Vito45
-2
Points
Vito45 11/20/11 - 01:33 pm
0
0
As far as the alcosensor

As far as the alcosensor goes, remember, this is driving under the INFLUENCE. If someone is sideways on drugs, they are still DUI; so the physical field testing is the key to a DUI arrest.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 11/20/11 - 01:46 pm
0
0
vito....perhaps he lied on

vito....perhaps he lied on the physical field testing too. That's why I asked if any or all of it is recorded on the dash cam.

allhans
22970
Points
allhans 11/20/11 - 01:56 pm
0
0
Isn't this a bigger to-do

Isn't this a bigger to-do than is necessary?

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