Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Paperwork snafu lets DUI-charged judge off hook

Atlanta Municipal Court Judge Andrew Mickle, 58, was arrested March 24 in Atlanta on a drunken driving charge.

Police officer failed to turn in documentation

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 07/28/08

An Atlanta Municipal Court judge arrested on drunken-driving charges earlier this year will not lose his license for refusing to take a sobriety test because an Atlanta police officer failed to turn in paperwork documenting the refusal, the judge's attorney said.

Judge Andrew Mickle would have had his license suspended for one year for refusing to take a chemical test of his blood, breath or urine during his March 24 arrest.

"For whatever reason, the officer never sent it in," defense attorney Steve Weiner said Friday. "That is fortunate for [Mickle]."

The Georgia Department of Driver Services, which enforces state laws and regulations relating to driver's licenses, would not confirm that the paperwork was not sent in to the department, general counsel Jennifer Ammons said.

But Ammons said she could confirm that Mickle still has a valid driver's license.

Ammons said motorists who refuse a chemical test have their licenses suspended, though they can appeal the suspension.

Ammons said she did not have statistics on how many people appeal their suspensions and how many people get the suspensions overturned.

When a motorist refuses a chemical test and is arrested on a DUI charge, the arresting officer is supposed to send a form to DDS documenting the refusal, Ammons said. The license suspension goes into effect 30 days after the arrest.

It's not clear why the officer who arrested Mickle, Malcolm Kempton, did not submit the paperwork.

An Atlanta police spokesperson, Eric Schwartz, said Monday afternoon that Kempton was unavailable for comment.

Schwartz said he did not immediately know what happened with the case, but said he would contact Kempton's supervisor to get the details in response to an inquiry from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

More than four hours later, when pressed for a response, Schwartz offered a short statement by e-mail: "We are investigating the case administratively to see if all proper steps have been followed."

Mickle, meanwhile, has not yet gone to court for the DUI charge. A judge has not been appointed to the case, though a prosecutor has, Weiner said.

After Mickle's arrest, the Municipal Court and city solicitor's office recused themselves, asking the Atlanta Judicial Circuit for an independent judge and prosecutor.

Mickle, a Municipal Court judge since 1992, was arrested after getting into an accident with another motorist on his way home from a restaurant.

The accident, near Oakland Cemetery, wasn't his fault, but Mickle admitted to police that he had "one too many drinks" and failed several field sobriety tests that involve physical tasks but no chemical analysis, according to an Atlanta police report.


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