Two attorneys who don’t even drink alcohol have been named 2016 Minnesota Attorneys of the Year for their efforts to protect the constitutional rights of those accused of driving while intoxicated and for their work to make prosecutions more accurate and scientifically sound.
Charles Ramsay and Daniel Koewler of the Ramsay Law Firm have radically and fundamentally changed the legal landscape of criminal defense, wrote attorney Sharon Osborn, who nominated them.
Through successful court cases, they have forced the state crime lab to make significant improvements in procedures and reporting methods regarding DWI testing, and they have seen the Minnesota Supreme court strike down unconstitutional laws on refusing blood and urine DWI tests, she wrote.
Now warrants are necessary for blood and urine tests.
Osborn also noted they have revolutionized the use of science in courtrooms because they both have “tirelessly educated themselves” on metrology (the science of weights and measures, including calibration and traceability). They share their knowledge in seminars, CLE programs, online and individually with other attorneys.
Ramsay was named a “forensic lawyer-scientist” this year by the chemistry and law division of the American Chemical Society, a nonprofit chartered by Congress. He started the coursework in 2009 and has completed about 200 hours of studies.
Ramsay says he became involved in DWI work soon after he graduated from law school. A friend of a friend came to him facing a DWI charge. That’s when Ramsay decided he “needed to step up” and protect not only the defendants’ civil rights but also their livelihoods and their families.
“I think, ‘What’s best for citizens in terms of our civil rights?’ All of our civil rights,” he says. “Sometimes in our zeal to make the roads safer, some of us decide that the goal should be obtained at all costs, with laws that overreach.
“But I think we can rid the roads of the scourge of the drunk driver without trashing the constitutions. The two are not mutually exclusive.”