Texas v. Z.M.



Texas v. Z.M.

182nd District Court of Harris County


All of our cases are important to us, but this is one case that no one involved will ever be able to forget.

Our client, a hardworking taxi driver from Eritrea, Ethiopia, was driving home from a volunteer gig at his church. He had consumed a couple of beers over the course of the evening, as well as a few sips of a traditional Eritrean homebrew called sewa.

Driving home at 10:00 pm, our client got into a horrible accident with another vehicle, leaving four passengers dead. While both parties claimed to have had a green light at the time of the accident, our client was backed up by an eyewitness who would later flee the scene to avoid getting in trouble with immigration. The police never bothered to check on the lights for any possible malfunctions.

After the tragic accident, our client acted normally and was fully cooperative, even offering to take sobriety tests right there on the spot. However, the police twiddled their thumbs and didn’t even perform the field test until 45 minutes after the accident. They waited even longer to perform blood and breath tests, performing the blood draw at 11:45pm, and waiting until 1:45 am to have him use the Intoxilyzer! While they eventually found our client’s BAC to be .14 blood and .10 breath, the results were collected too long after the fact to paint a compelling picture.

Based on Texas “Time of Driving” rules, the prosecution had to prove that our client was intoxicated at the time of the accident. That’s when the “facts” stopped adding up! Using faulty retrograde absorption theories, an “expert” from the prosecution claimed that our client had as many as nine drinks within 30 minutes before the accident! However, our client never needed to use the restroom during the entire investigation (4 hours), which is extremely unlikely for someone who’s had nine beers!

To put it simply, the numbers just didn’t add up. That was enough to create reasonable doubt. The police didn’t collect their results soon enough. They didn’t follow up on important leads like the traffic lights to make sure the whole story was being told. Thanks to a smart jury who had the courage to uphold the law and move past the emotions, our client received not guilty verdicts on all charges.

We send our sincerest condolences to all involved in this terrible accident. What happened was a tragedy, but not a crime. We’re thankful to have had a jury that understood the difference.