I have experts coming...They are Troy D. Walden and Lance A.Platt. They are apparently testifying about FSTs. The Defense says they look at the video and pick apart the officer's administaration of the tests and then can testify that they are invalid. Has anyone ever heard of these two guys or had them in trial before??
[This message was edited by Admin on 01-07-04 at .]
Have you gotten their resume (or CV or whatever its being called these days?)
I'm always amazed at what people claim to be "experts" at.
Depending on how friendly your judge is to the state, you might have some luck challenging their ability to testify.
Try to get in touch with Richard Alpert over at the Tarrant County D.A.'s office. His DWI caselaw update usually has the most current rulings on this stuff.
Walden and Platt are former instructors on SFST's and HGN through the Texas A&M system (which has the only approved curriculum to train officers in Texas). They apparently left on bad terms and have now started their own company to "train" defense attorneys and their investigators on the weaknesses of SFST's and HGN. I haven't come across these two personally but have had a couple of private investigators testifying for defense attorneys as "experts" after going to their course. They probably look good on paper but their CV won't tell the whole story. John Lyons, Investigator for the Johnson County Attorney's Office has some good information on these two. John's phone number is (817)556-6859.
Yes, they used to be the heads of SFST Training over at A&M! Contact Albert Reeder (current stats SFST Coordinator there) at email@example.com or (979) 458-2764. Someone out here should have a transcript of their testimony for the State too, which would make interesting cross.
Also contact John Lyons, crim investigator for Johnson County, who is an SFST instructor and DRE instructor, he knows some dirt on those guys too. His number is (817) 556-6859 and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org
crossed in the mail!
One tactic that defense "experts" are using now is to attack the officer's adminstration of the HGN by counting the number of seconds taken to adminster each "pass." I believe the DPS NHTSA-derived manual says each "pass" (from center of vision out to max deviation) should take APROXIMATELY two seconds. Then, two more seconds back to center, and so on. Total up the number of passes, multiply by two seconds per pass, and you have what should be the approximate elapsed time for the test. Often the elapsed time on the video will be different than the "ideal" time that would result if each pass took PRECISELY two seconds, with no breaks in between. This is one thing that your defense expert will be looking for.
ALSO- Be aware that, although the training manual SEEMS to suggest a distinct, "pre-test screening" for other HGN-causing factors, wherein the officer checks for equal tracking, that screening is NOT required to be done separately. See Webster, 26 S.W.3d 717, at 721. If the officer looks for smooth pursuit at the same time as he is looking for clues, that can account for some difference in the elapsed time for the test.
In a TDCLA binder from an Expert Witness CLE last year I found a photocopy of the Walden, Platt brochure, if anyone is interested I can fax or mail it to you after my trials this week.
Marcy Burns is finishing a study on the HGN conclusions of officers who do not follow the NHTSA guidelines exactly. The study was done in San Antonio. Preliminary research seems to suggest that officers who do their "passes" or "sweeps" too fast often miss clues. Fast sweeps neither create nystagmus as some people suggest nor do they invalidate the conclusions. The only bad effect seems to be that officers may miss clues, thereby allowing some impaired individuals to go free.
I suggest talking to Albert Reeder. He can get good stuff on this study and good stuff on the ex-dynamic duo.
Both Lance and Troy worked as patrol officers for College station Police Dept. One or both were motorcycle officers. One may have an interesting personnel file. There are no transcripts that I know of of their testimony as arresting officers in a DWI case. However I am sure they each did a number of DWI arrests and advocated the training they got at the A&M Academy. Neither was a "Shining Star" on the stand.
Troy Walden testified at one of our intox manslaughter trials as an expert on search warrants and how long it takes to draft. The defense always threatens to use them as SFST experts but never do.
It took a little digging, but I have located a transcript for a suppression hearing I had with Lance Platt as the arresting officer on a DWI in 1999.
It is short on detail as to his background as the basis for the stop was the issue (use of doppler radar and speeding), but it resulted in a published opinion, Icke v. State, 36 S.W.3d 913,(Hou.[1st] 2001, PDR Ref.).
I will be happy to forward a copy to any interested prosecutor.
I'm reading a record right now that features Lance Platt. His testimony in essence was that the officer's HGN results were not reliable because the officer didn't perform the test perfectly -- among the officer's trangressions was not holding the stimulous stationary for four seconds.
Helpfully, he also testified that the defendant "looked as if he didn't have control of his physical and mental faculties."
I'd be happy to e-mail you his testimony if you'd like it --it's about 22 pages.
I'm interested in starting a file on these guys... if it's not too much trouble, please mail or email your goodies here:
PO Box 1748, Austin 78767
Troy Walden stuff, anyone? He's middle-high on my jury docket next Tuesday 2/3/04-- how did that slip by me???
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