12/29/2005Ohio Supreme Court Justice Receives Slap on Wrist for DUI
An Ohio Supreme Court justice received a mere reprimand after being caught driving drunk and attempting to use her office to avoid arrest.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick, 66, received only a "public reprimand" on Wednesday as punishment for violating judicial ethics rules after being caught driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The highest-ranking elected Democrat in the state admitted violating the Judicial Code of Conduct, which states, "A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."
On January 31, 2005 at 2pm, Resnick was stopped by police officers near Bowling Green. "This is ridiculous, give me back my license," Resnick said to the police as captured on videotape. "There's nothing wrong with me. What are you going to do with me? You're embarrassing me. I want to go on to Columbus. I've not been drinking, you're really infringing on my... "
"You going to put me in jail?" Resnick said on the video. "I've always said a Supreme Court justice should have a highway patrolman driving them. They do it for the U.S. Supreme Court. This is so embarrassing to me."
Resnick then got in her SUV and drove away as police officers waited for a supervisor to deal with the justice who refused a breath test. Stopped again six miles down the road, she blew a .21 reading on a breathalyzer, far above the .08 necessary for conviction. Police reports quote Resnick as saying, "My God, you know I decide all these cases in your favor and, my golly, look what you're doing to me."
Twelve chief judges from each of Ohio's appeals courts issued the unanimous ruling. Supreme Court justices recused themselves because they could not be fully impartial regarding the actions of a colleague. In their ruling yesterday, the judges did not consider the video accounts of Resnick's conduct, even though Cynthia Gray, an expert on judicial discipline, recommends censure or suspension of a judge who makes "an attempt to avoid arrest by asserting the judicial office."
Resnick was sentenced to a $500 fine, a three-day alcohol intervention program and had her driving license suspended for six months. The full text of the decision is available in a 39k PDF file at the source link below.