updated 8/8/2006 2:52:36 PM ET 2006-08-08T18:52:36

A judge ordered a blood-alcohol test for a defense lawyer who was slurring his words, then declared a mistrial after declaring him too tipsy to argue a kidnapping case.

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"I don't think you can tell a straight story because you are intoxicated," the judge told Joseph Caramango as she declared a mistrial for his client.

Caramango acknowledged in court that he was drinking the previous night, but maintained he was not drunk. If convicted, his client faces life in prison.

"I've always considered myself the consummate professional," Caramango told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I take all my cases very personally."

He did not respond to a call seeking additional comment Tuesday.

Barely street-legal
Clark County District Judge Michelle Leavitt ordered Caramango to take a breath alcohol test in court Thursday, then told him it showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.075 percent. Nevada's legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers is 0.08 percent.

In an exchange recorded by courtroom video, Caramango arrived about 90 minutes late for trial and was slurring his words.

The judge asked if anything was wrong, and Caramango said he suffered a head injury in a rear-end car crash while driving to court.

Her good friends know her as Josephine?
Leavitt said she was suspicious because details of Caramango's account varied.

Caramango also identified a woman who accompanied him to court as his ex-girlfriend, Christine, but when questioned by the judge the woman identified herself as Josephine. She said they just met about 20 minutes earlier at a bar.

Leavitt did not hold Caramango in contempt of court, and it was not immediately clear if he would face discipline by the State Bar.

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