In order to have a chance at getting a favorable outcome when defending a DUI with an allegedly innocent client, a lawyer should always consider the venue. The venue is where the case will be heard. Kentucky has 120 counties and more than 120 venues (some Kentucky counties contain two venues) plus Federal venues.
Why is venue important? Because in a few venues the judge handling the case or a jury may allow personal bias to influence their decisions. It has been my experience that the judges and juries are sometimes influenced by DUI news worthy events (no matter how remote in time), church values, how a defendant presents themselves, morals, and more.
For example, in one case I handled a few years ago, I stated to my client that the county treats DUI's harshly and that it would be difficult to prove a person's innocence in that venue. I explained that in 1988 a drunk driver going the wrong way on Interstate 71 in Carrolton Kentucky struck a church bus which resulted in a fire causing the deaths of 27 young people from this county. The client, maintaining his innocence, still decided to proceed.
Some venues are biased against alleged DUI offenders based on community values. In yet another case, while eating at a McDonald's restraurant, I discovered a hidden bias in that small southern Kentucky city. While waiting for my meal, I struck up a conversation with a friendly retired deputy sherif and learned that this county primarily consisted of two large families who were biased against anyone charged with a DUI. He explained that since my client was not a member of either family he would be considered an outsider. The cashier joined in our conversation and realized that she was related to the retired deputy sherif along with the prosecutor and the deputy sherif who arrested the defendant. Discussions with local defense attorneys and officers not involved in my client's case supported this community bias.
In both examples, at the suppression hearings, I elicited testimony favorable for my clients from the arresting police officers and which should have resulted in suppression of certain DUI evidence. Suppressing certain evidence supporting an element of a DUI typically causes the prosecutor to reassess whether they could get a conviction for a DUI if the matter went to trial. Without certain DUI evidence the prosecutor may decide to dismiss the DUI. Yet both judges ruled against my clients contrary to the testimonial evidence from the officer. One judge stated that if the defendant did not like his decision then he could raise the matter on appeal.
So what can an allgedly innocent DUI Defendant do where it appears the judge has exhibited bias against the defendant? Well, prior to trial, a Defendant can enter an Alford guilty plea with no right to appeal, a conditional guilty plea in order to file an appeal where the defendant argues the legal merits of his case to a higher court, or take the matter to trial and appeal the legal merits of their case if the jury convicts the defendant. In Kentucky, a defendant claiming their innocence can enter an Alford plea which is a guilty criminal plea where the defendant admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defendant decides to take the matter to trial, then the defense attorney will try to flush out juror biases to eliminate biased jurors prior to trial during the jury selection process.