Criminal Justice

Judge Probed re DA's Claim of Possible 'Unauthorized and Illegal Judgments' in DWI Cases

A North Carolina judge has been removed from hearing criminal cases and is being investigated concerning a claim by the Wake County District Attorney of a “disturbing pattern of what may be unauthorized and illegal judgments” in driving-while-intoxicated cases.

A letter from DA Colon Willoughby to Chief Resident Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens raised the issue and resulted in the investigation of county Judge Kristin Ruth, the News & Observer reports.

She told the newspaper she plans to cooperate fully in the investigation but declined to comment specifically, saying that she didn’t want to take any chance of interfering with the investigation.

At issue in a probe now being pursued, in response to Willoughby’s letter, by the State Bureau of Investigation is whether conviction dates were changed in driving-under-the-influence cases, after the defendants dropped their appeals, in order to shorten or eliminate the periods in which the defendants’ driver’s licenses would be suspended, the article explains.

Ruth, who in 2010 was elected vice president of the North Carolina Bar Association, unsuccessfully sought election to the state court of appeals in 2008.

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