How Not To Prosecute A Case: Fond du Lac Edition


How Not To Prosecute A Case: Fond du Lac Edition

CREATED Mar 26, 2012

I don't know if former State Senator Randy Hopper was intoxicated when he was stopped by authorities last October 16th.  I do know though that his trial should be taught in law school as a classic example of how not to prosecute a case.

I realize that we're talking about Fond du Lac - where real drunk drivers are allowed to plead to reduced charges of flying an airplane while intoxicated.  Still, everybody involved in this case should be asking themselves how a special prosecutor was allowed to bark this dog into court in the first place?

The various missteps in the Hopper prosecution (as documented by the local newspaper)  are stunning.  Calling Moe, Larry and Curly.

Where do we start?

The family that called authorities and claimed Hopper was driving erratically were politically opposed to him (although they denied knowing it was Hopper when they first called police).  The field sobriety test administered to Hopper on the scene was inconclusive at best - and no expert testified that he failed.  Authorities never took Hopper to the hospital for a blood draw (!) so there was no admissible evidence of his Blood Alcohol Content.

Beyond this, Hopper testified that he was told by one officer on the scene that the matter would be handled differently if that officer were in charge.  In a statement to the newspaper, the police department disputed this (but the officer was never called to testify).  Audio from the stop was apparently available - but not played.

Put it all together and it screams "reasonable doubt"!

The attorney for Hopper argued that the arrest could have been in retaliation for Hopper's vote in favor of collective bargaining reforms.  That's a sexy theory for news coverage but I think the truth is a lot more straight forward. 

This case simply had more holes than a target at a shooting range.