William D. Healan III (Billy Healan) Accomplishments
Historical Cases, Accomplishments, Awards
William D. Healan III has successfully handled hundreds of criminal cases including numerous jury trials. Even before graduating from law school, Mr. Healan obtained acquittals in two jury trials as part of Georgia’s third year law student practice act.
After graduating from law school, Mr. Healan’s interest in criminal law continued to grow. He quickly gained the respect of the legal community by adopting an aggressive approach to defending his clients and through his innovative strategies. This respect is apparent from his selection as a rising star in Super Lawyers Magazine from 2005-2010. Mr. Healan has also been endorsed by numerous other attorneys on the legal rating site Avvo.com. Mr. Healan has achieved a 10 out of 10 rating on this website.
As the only attorney in Barrow County with a practice devoted to criminal defense, Mr. Healan handles more criminal cases in Barrow County than any other private lawyer. His practice is not limited to Barrow County, however. Mr. Healan regularly travels to all the surrounding counties and throughout northeast Georgia to defend people charged with various crimes and DUI.
Historical Cases: In 2003, William D. Healan III along with co-counsel, Sherry Boston, argued Cooper v. State in front of the Georgia Supreme Court. On October 6, 2003, the Court issued a landmark decision, which declared a portion of Georgia’s DUI law unconstitutional. Because of the Cooper decision, the police in Georgia can no longer, as a matter of standard procedure, request a blood, breath, or urine test from a motorist involved in an accident with a fatality or serious injury. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a front page headline after the Cooper decision declaring “Part of Georgia’s DUI Law Erased.”
In January 2004, Mr. Healan was awarded “Best Case of the Year” by the Georgia Defenders of Drinking Drivers (D.O.D.D.) group for Cooper v. State.
In 2000, the Georgia Supreme Court decided another of William D. Healan III’s cases. In King v. State, the Supreme Court held a different Georgia statute unconstitutional as it applied to Mr. Healan’s client. The Court held that a district attorney’s office had violated Mr. Healan’s client’s right to privacy when it subpoenaed her medical records to charge her with DUI based on her hospital blood test. The King case changed the way that hospitals throughout Georgia responded to medical records requests and subpoenas.
In 1997, the Georgia Court of Appeals decided Mr. Healan’s case, State v. Frazier. Frazier was one of the first cases in Georgia that prevented prosecutors from charging motorists with drug possession when their DUI blood or urine test came back positive for an illegal drug.
William D. Healan III has spoken at several seminars designed to educate other attorneys in the fields of criminal and DUI law. October 1998, Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers fall seminar — Criminal Discovery. October 2003, Georgia Indigent Defense Counsel — Ethically Defending Co-Defendants in a Drug Case. February 2004, Using the ALS hearing to Win/Limit Issues at Trial.
Below is a small sampling of Mr. Healan’s jury victories:
DUI The defendant was stopped by the police after fleeing from a convenience store where his passenger had stolen two cases of beer. The officer claimed that the defendant, who refused the official breath test, had failed his field sobriety tests. The preliminary road-side breath test was positive for alcohol. The officer claimed that he smelled mouthwash on the defendant’s breath and admitted that mouthwash could interfere with the road-side breath test. Mr. Healan argued that it was reasonable for the defendant to refuse the official breath test because he would not have trusted breath testing in general after the preliminary breath test gave an inaccurate result due to the mouthwash. The jury acquitted the defendant of DUI.
Theft by Taking The police were summoned to a local business after the bank deposit came up missing. The defendant was arrested after the police searched several employees’ cars and found the missing deposit in the defendant’s glove compartment. The defendant was acquitted after Mr. Healan presented evidence that other employees did not like the defendant and could have planted the money in her car.
Sale of Cocaine The defendant was charged with selling cocaine after an informant allegedly bought cocaine from him. The informant’s car had been rigged with a video camera, which captured the alleged transaction. At trial, the prosecution attempted to play the video, but the judge sustained Mr. Healan’s objection to the video based on a lack of foundation. As there was no other evidence of the sale, the judge directed a verdict of not guilty.
Manufacturing Marijuana The defendant was charged with manufacturing marijuana after the police found the defendant’s flat-bed truck in a field behind the defendant’s house. The truck contained several hundred marijuana plants. Mr. Healan argued that since the defendant had previously sold and repossessed the truck without looking in the back, the marijuana could have belonged to someone else. The jury acquitted the defendant on all charges.
Child Molestation The defendant was a neighbor to a 13-year-old girl. The girl and her 14-year-old friend accused the defendant of molesting them. Mr. Healan presented evidence that the girls had given numerous inconsistent statements concerning the alleged incident. The jury acquitted the defendant on all charges.
DUI The defendant was stopped at well after midnight for weaving. The officer claimed that the defendant had urinated on himself, was unsteady and had slurred speech, and failed the field sobriety tests. The defendant registered .187 on the official breath test. Mr. Healan was successful in getting the breath test result suppressed. He then used the police video to show that the defendant did not weave, was steady on his feet and had normal speech. The jury acquitted the defendant of DUI.
Cocaine Possession The defendant was in the back seat of a car in which the police found cocaine. Although the cocaine was also found in the back seat, Mr. Healan’s client was acquitted after he established that one of the front seat occupants could have placed the cocaine where it was found.
Cruelty to Children The defendant’s 10-year-old child had lied to him, driven his car, and finally climbed up on top of the roof. Upon finding the child on the roof, the defendant spanked the child with the first thing he could find, an old fan belt. The child resisted and squirmed during the spanking, causing the defendant to miss the child’s buttocks. The misses caused several large bruises on the child’s legs and arms and a cut on his cheek. Mr. Healan argued that the cut was not intentional and was a result of the child’s resistance. After having been informed that corporal punishment is still legal in Georgia, the jury acquitted the defendant on all charges.
DUI The defendant was stopped for weaving and had an open can of beer. According to the arresting officer, the defendant failed the field sobriety tests and blew .081 on the official breath test. Georgia’s limit is .080. Mr. Healan presented expert testimony that the breath test had a margin of error and presented additional expert testimony that the field sobriety tests were not administered properly. The jury acquitted the defendant of DUI.
Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine The police executed a search warrant and found cocaine at the defendant’s house. The sheriff confronted the defendant by saying “we know you have been selling drugs” to which the defendant replied “yeah.” At trial, the defendant explained that he thought that the sheriff had been talking about selling marijuana, for which the defendant was on probation. Mr. Healan presented evidence that others could have placed the cocaine where it was found, and the jury acquitted the defendant on all charges.
Burglary and Attempted Rape The victim woke up to find someone forcing himself on her. She was eventually able to scream and the attacker ran out of her bedroom and collided with her sister in the hall. The attacker then fled from the house. The victim and her sister both identified the defendant, with whom both were acquainted, as the attacker. Mr. Healan presented evidence of the defendant’s alibi and evidence that a serial rapist had been on the loose in the victim’s neighborhood at the time of the attack. Mr. Healan presented expert testimony from a respected scholar who educated the jury as to the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. The jury acquitted the defendant on all counts.
DUI The defendant was stopped for speeding and was charged with DUI after allegedly failing the field sobriety tests and blowing .081 (above the .080 limit) on the official breath test. At trial, Mr. Healan presented expert testimony as to the unreliability of the breath test. The defendant was acquitted of speeding and DUI per se (for blowing above the limit). The defendant was convicted, however, of DUI for being a less safe driver. Mr. Healan appealed the conviction and the Georgia Court of Appeals granted the defendant a new trial. Mr. Healan then presented expert testimony that the field sobriety tests had been improperly administered, and the second jury acquitted the defendant on the remaining DUI count.