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Conflict of interest in Tennessee DUI cases challenged

Someone who is convicted of DUI in Tennessee is required to pay at least a $250 fine. While convicted offenders and their families might feel that financial pinch, maybe they don't think about where that money is going to.

According to Tennessee criminal defense lawyer Jerry Summers, where the money from the DUI fines go to is extremely important. It is important in the name of justice in Tennessee. Currently, the recipient of DUI fines is actually part of the cases built against DUI defendants.

Summers is challenging that arrangement and, in doing so, potentially shaking things up in the state's DUI cases.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation takes in and evaluates the evidence collected during impaired driving arrests. The TBI, according to Summers, also is the recipient of fines following DUI convictions. Do you see how that might be a conflict of interest?

Behind Summers' conflict of interest argument is a pretty simple but crucial idea. If the TBI has money to gain from the conviction of DUI defendants, then it might be likely to apply bias when handling evidence connected to the Tennessee cases.

If there is any doubt regarding the unbiased, honest and accurate evaluation of evidence that could be used to convict or exonerate a suspect in any sort of criminal case, it isn't just the job of a defense attorney but an entire criminal justice system to take notice and take action.

Summers asks that judges dismiss the DUI charges in three cases based on his argument that this conflict of interest in Tennessee cases exists and threatens the constitutional rights of all defendants. When there is a development in this legal matter, we will post an update.

Source: News Channel 9, "Tennessee DUI Cases Could Be In Jeopardy," Calvin Sneed, Feb. 3, 2014

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