A Georgia eye doctor has pleaded no contest to perjury charges in Pennsylvania stemming from his claims that he was a drunk driving expert for the purpose of testifying in DUI trials. Dr. Joseph Citron has pleaded no contest to nine counts of perjury, signaling the end of a bizarre case that started in 2010. Prosecutors accused Dr. Citron of committing perjury in multiple trials between March 2010 and March 2012.
Experts are often relied upon during trials to provide credible opinions about circumstances of a case. Dr. Citron claimed that he was a qualified expert to testify about field sobriety tests in DUI cases. Because of his falsified credentials, his expert testimony was used and relied on during these trials. What exactly did Dr. Citron, an ophthalmologist, say about his credentials? He claimed that he had been an instructor at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC), and had trained police officers for 10 years. Specifically, Dr. Citron claimed he had trained officers to act as first responders and to properly conduct standard field sobriety tests. Officers commonly use these tests to determine whether a driver is impaired or intoxicated by testing the driver’s balance and coordination, which are commonly affected by alcohol consumption.
Dr. Citron also testified as an expert witness that he was appointed by the Governor’s Office to join a “Drunk Busters” program, which supposedly allowed him to travel around Georgia reviewing sobriety test practices with police departments. Because Dr. Citron testified about these credential while sworn in at trials, his lies led to perjury charges. Suspicious of his claimed credentials, law enforcement officials investigated Dr. Citron and discovered his falsified records.
According to these officials, Dr. Citron never taught police officers how to conduct sobriety tests, and only guest lectured these officers about eye injuries during a first responder course. Additionally, it appears that Dr. Citron completely fabricated the invitation to join the Drunk Busters program. Following his no contest plea, Dr. Citron was sentenced to the state’s Intermediate Punishment Program for seven years, having to serve the first 60 days on house arrest with electronic monitoring. Dr. Citron was also sentenced to pay fines, including the costs related to prosecuting the case. This strange case begs the question why someone would lie about such specific expertise in order to testify as an expert witness.
Dr. Citron admitted that lying about his qualifications “sounds good,” but that answer lacks a lot of detail. Lying about one’s DUI expertise could potentially harm someone standing trial for a DUI charge by leading to a conviction based on unreliable expert opinion. Reports do not indicate whether Dr. Citron’s “expert” testimony led to anyone’s DUI convictions, though that is a very real possibility. Perhaps the gravity of the situation is what led prosecutors to bring perjury charges against him. Of course, Dr. Citron will not be called upon as a DUI expert again, given the exposure of his case. It is likely his case will serve as a warning to other “expert” witnesses who may be tempted to exaggerate or lie about their credentials.
DISCLAIMER: The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem.