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UHP, ex-trooper could face class action over false DUI arrests

The legal troubles for the Utah Highway Patrol due to its former “Trooper of the Year’s” alleged penchant for making false DUI arrests are continuing to balloon. The department could face a class action lawsuit from as many as 800 wrongfully accused drivers, some of whom may have been convicted based on the ex-trooper’s dubious testimony.

As we have discussed in the past, the ex-trooper was once lauded by the UHP for making far more DUI arrests than her colleagues, up to 400 in one year alone. However, doubts began to surface and a secret UHP report concluded that the trooper frequently arrested drivers for DUI despite the fact that they had little to no drugs in their systems. The public later learned of that report, and the UHP fired the trooper.

In our Feb. 22 blog post, we discussed two of her former arrests, both of whom were found not guilty at trial, who filed civil rights lawsuits against UHP. Suspecting they were not the only ones harmed by the trooper’s conduct, the plaintiffs were seeking class-action status. A pair of attorneys working with the plaintiffs estimate that up to 800 people could join the class.

Meanwhile, many of the falsely accused are seeking restitution for post-conviction relief. Also, the attorneys say that several of their clients have been interviewed by the FBI, suggesting that the trooper and UHP may be under federal investigation.

This case is a powerful reminder that what prosecutors present in court is not necessarily the way it happened. A DUI defense attorney can conduct an independent investigation and construct a vigorous defense.

Source: Ogden Standard-Examiner, “Lawsuits piling up on ex-trooper,” Tim Gurrister, April 6, 2013

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