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Bell v. District of Columbia

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

February 25, 2016

ANTHONY BELL, APPELLANT,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, APPELLEE

         Submitted September 25, 2015

         Filed November 20, 2015 [*].

          Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CTF-9340-13). (Hon. A. Franklin Burgess, Jr., Trial Judge).

         Joseph A. Scrofano was on the brief for appellant.

         Karl Racine, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd Kim, Solicitor General, Rosalyn Calbert Groce, Deputy Solicitor General, and John J. Woykovsky, Assistant Attorney General, were on the brief for appellee.

         Before WASHINGTON, Chief Judge, THOMPSON, Associate Judge, and NEWMAN, Senior Judge.

Page 855

         JUDGMENT

         This case was submitted to the court on the transcript of record, the briefs filed, and without presentation of oral argument. On consideration whereof, and for the reasons set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

         ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the judgment on appeal is affirmed.

          OPINION

         Thompson, Associate Judge :

         After a bench trial, appellant Anthony Bell was convicted of driving under the influence (" DUI" ), in violation of D.C. Code § 50-2206.11 (2012 Repl.). He argues on appeal that (i) the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction because it did not establish that he was in physical control of his vehicle, and (ii) the trial court applied a statutory presumption that unconstitutionally relieved the District of Columbia (the " District" ) of its burden of proof as to whether he was " under the influence." We disagree and therefore affirm the judgment of conviction.

         I.

         Metropolitan Police Department Officer Calvin Branch testified that, in the early hours of May 26, 2013, he was on patrol in the 2700 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, S.E., watching patrons disperse from a club that was closing for the evening. Officer Branch testified that as the parking lot emptied, he noticed a car " sitting in the parking lot with a subject behind the wheel and the motor running[.]" As the officer approached the vehicle, he could see a man (later identified as appellant) sleeping in the driver's seat with his chin resting on his chest. Officer Branch knocked on the window several times in an attempt to wake appellant, with no success. Suspecting that appellant was intoxicated, Officer Branch radioed for assistance, and Officer Roderick Saunders responded.

         Once Officer Saunders arrived, one of the officers opened the unlocked driver's door and shook appellant, who then " started to come around." Officer Branch testified that appellant's voice was " slurred," he smelled of alcohol, and, upon exiting the vehicle, he stumbled and " could not quite get his balance at first." The officers had to " grab a hold of him so that he would not fall on the ground[.]" When the officers let go of ...


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