Attorney Horowitz wins felony DUI reversal
On April 10, 2019, Attorney Horowitz won another appellate reversal, this time for a felony DUI.
The defendant was convicted of felony DUI after a crash on an icy road. He filed a motion to suppress the warrant for his blood sample. After the court denied that motion, client proceeded to a bench trial where he was convicted by a judge instead of the 12-person jury he was constitutionally entitled to. While bench trials are certainly valid tactical decisions on certain occasions, giving up the fundamental right to a jury requires a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver of that right.
On appeal, Attorney Horowitz argued that the trial court failed to obtain such a waiver. The Court of Appeals and government agreed, and the Court of Appeals remanded the case back to the trial court, ostensibly for a new trial.
Prior to trial, DePriest filed a motion to suppress the medical records, arguing that the search warrant was issued without probable cause. The superior court denied his motion and the case proceeded to a bench trial. DePriest did not contest any of the facts presented at trial and agreed that the court should find him guilty, noting that the purpose of the trial had been to preserve his right to challenge the court’s denial of his suppression motion.
DePriest raises two issues on appeal. First, DePriest argues that the superior court failed to obtain a personal waiver of his right to trial by jury and that this constitutes structural error. The State concedes that the court failed to obtain DePriest’s personal waiver and that this error requires reversal. We have reviewed the record and find the State’s concession to be well-founded. We therefore reverse DePriest’s conviction and remand for further proceedings.