Former Department of Public Safety Forensic Scientist (“DUI Expert”) Greg Ohlson has filed a civil lawsuit in the United States District Court against the Arizona Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) for violating his First Amendment Rights by retaliating against him for testifying negatively about DPS testing and disclosure policies and procedures in DUI cases. Mr. Ohlson worked in the Toxicology Department in the Scientific Analysis Bureau at DPS from 2004 until 2016 and testified in hundreds of DUI trials and evidentiary hearings on behalf of the prosecution as their “DUI expert” witness.
According to recent news reports, in 2015, Ohlson was in charge of blood tests for DPS DUI cases and would test dozens of blood samples that would make up a single batch. The lawsuit alleges that it was DPS’ policy not to allow defense attorneys to access the entire batch results through the discovery process, reasoning it would take too much time. Over the years the attorneys here at Rosenstein Law Group have routinely requested these results from every prosecutor’s office in every DUI case in which we have defended, and the prosecutor’s office(s) and police agencies always baulk at sending us this information.
Mr. Ohlson claims to have developed a method in which this data could be quickly and easily complied and then provided to defense attorneys. He told his superiors about this method in March 2016, and then testified in open court while under oath in May 2016 that providing this requested information should be done and would be in the best interest of the public to do so. The lawsuit alleges that in June 2016 Mr. Ohlson was reprimanded by his boss simply for testifying truthfully in court and was told to modify his testimony to conform with “the laboratory and the other analysts” and not release all the tests to defense attorneys who requested them. An employee performance report provided in the lawsuit details the “oral instruction” Mr. Ohlson was given by his superiors following his testimony as follows:
“It was pointed out to you that your opinion … is contrary to the opinion of the other analysts in the bureau and contrary to the position of the laboratory,” the DPS employee performance report stated. “You were advised that testifying about what other agencies in the state do with regards to disclosure or storage of their data is outside of your current qualifications. You are not currently employed by these agencies and are not aware of their current procedures, protocols or policies.”
Despite this reprimand, again while under oath in an evidentiary hearing for a DUI prosecution in July 2016, Ohlson again “testified truthfully” and completely about how the results should be provided to requesting defense attorneys. The judge ordered the DPS lab and the prosecutors to release the entire batch following Ohlson’s testimony. Later, a jury found the defendant not guilty of his DUI charge.
Ohlson’s lawsuit claims his superiors confronted him a month after his testimony and ordered him to alter his statements. According to Ohlson’s attorneys, he was then removed from testing blood samples and ordered to delete batch results he had been recording on DPS-issued computers. He was put on administrative leave, and after an internal investigation, his superiors found him guilty of insubordination and “conduct adverse to the agency.” His pay was docked, and he was removed from laboratory work. Ohlson’s attorneys said that Ohlson “got the message” and retired in early 2017.
In this day and age when whistleblowers working for private companies are granted immunity by prosecutors in exchange for their testimony against their employers for wrongdoing, it is sad to see that a long-time law enforcement employee gets pushed out of his job and forced to sue for DPS doing the same. It is our plan here at the Rosenstein Law Group to keep up Mr. Ohlson’s fight and continue to press prosecutors and police crime labs to disclose any and all information that may help our clients charged with DUI.
If you are arrested and/or charged with DUI. Please contact the Rosenstein Law Group at (480) 248-7666 for a free consultation. We are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The full complaint can be viewed at: https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=http://KTVK.images.worldnow.com/library/124304d7-23a2-4396-ad44-0693d111924e.pdf.