In July 2002, New York State Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills was arrested after she hit two parked cars in a parking lot with her dad’s Rolls Royce. She allegedly reeked of alcohol, had difficulty standing, allegedly slurred her words. She then refused a sobriety test—and yet she is still hearing cases.
Before even talking about the trial, a citizen has a right to refuse a sobriety test, as does a judge. But since a citizen at least gets his or her license suspended, I say this judge should have been suspended from the bench pending the outcome of her trial. Everyone else gets a certain presumption of guilt when you refuse a sobriety test, and so should she. But it gets worse. The judge is now claiming that the black and Hispanic officers who arrested her only targeted her because she’s black.
The defense didn’t present any evidence to support that. The prosecution called police officers to talk about how drunk Judge Mills was, and then the most important witness, a business associate, testified that she drank with Mills all night, that the judge staggered to her car and needed help to cross the street, and the associate says she begged Mills not to get behind the wheel. After trying to get out of a parking space five or six times, the judge allegedly just hit the cars while police officers watched.
Now the biggest travesty, even if she’s convicted, is that she likely doesn’t lose her $136,000 a year job as a judge. The state commission on judicial conduct almost always just scolds judges accused of this conduct, even drunk driving. Well I would hope this is a case for an exception. If she is convicted, this is not just a drunk driving case. It’s a case of a judge who tried to use the race card, who tried to manipulate the system to avoid responsibility for her actions. That’s not the sort of person who should be judging anyone.
'Closing Argument' is a regular segment of 'The Abrams Report.' 'The Abrams Report' airs weeknights, 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC.