Trusty's presence puts tests on line
By SUE CARLTON & AMY HERDY
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 25, 2001
When a Florida Department of Law Enforcement inspector stopped by a Hillsborough County jail earlier this month for a routine look at the alcohol breath testing device used on DUI suspects, he noticed a jail trusty cleaning around the machine.
That, it turns out, might be a point of contention in some drunken driving cases pending in court.
State rules say the device, which measures a person's alcohol level and often gives prosecutors their best evidence for winning DUI convictions, should be accessible only to certain authorized people. The inspector noted that the machine was turned on that day and not locked within its security cabinet as the trusty worked, which the inspector saw as "a blatant breach of security."
Within days, jail officials ordered that inmates will no longer be doing the cleaning in the Central Breath Testing Unit. The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office also informed defense lawyers.
Now, those lawyers will surely be looking at having any damning breath test results against their clients thrown out.
"It calls into question the reliability of all the breath tests that were taken," said local lawyer Eddie Suarez. "I think you can expect that lawyers with pending DUI cases will be investigating the reliability of those test results."
END OF AN ERA: Lorenzo says it's official. He's retiring this year, this man who has spent more than three decades at the courthouse, who has had the ear of prominent lawyers, sitting judges and state attorneys, a man universally known by his first name, a force to be reckoned with in the halls of justice. (He's also the head custodian.)
Watch this space for information about the proper send-off activities planned for Lorenzo Hayes.
NO RESPECT: A portrait of new state attorney Mark Ober was recently put up in the official courthouse gallery of muckety-mucks. One problem: the caption read Mark S. Ober, and his middle name is Alan.
Recently, the caption was fixed to say "A." No word on what the "S" might have stood for.
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