George Korpita, a former municipal court judge in Morris County, New Jersey was found guilty March 19, 2009, of his second DWI charge.
Korpita was pulled over last February 15, 2008 for careless driving as his vehicle was swerving in and out of traffic. He recently admitted to driving drunk and was convicted of his second drunk driving charge, as well as refusing to take a breath test.
Korpita did announce in court that he has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and has been sober for over a year. In light of this information, the judge suspended Korpita’s 45-day jail term ruling and ordered him to go to AA meetings six days a week for two years; however, the former judge will be jailed if he misses any meetings.
The court also suspended Korpita’s driver’s license for two years and fined him $2,000. In addition, the New Jersey Supreme Court suspended Korpita’s license to practice law after he admitted to driving drunk.
Korpita’s first conviction came after his admittance to driving drunk in Roxbury in 2007 and threatened police who arrested him. Soon after his arrest, Korpita stepped down from his position in Dover, Rockaway Borough and Victory Gardens.
A man being accused of DWI in New Jersey, is using a rare legal defense known as “pathological intoxication.” Eugene Baum Jr., a Dover man, has been accused of drunk driving and killing two teenage pedestrians in Kinnelon almost three years ago.
According to the pathological intoxication defense, someone can have a condition where they regularly become so intoxicated that they have no control over their alcohol or drug addictions and are unaware of their actions.
Baum’s DWI defense attorney claims that Baum had been hospitalized three times before the fatal accident two years ago for alcoholism. On the evening of the crash, he was operating as if he was on “autopilot” and was oblivious to his actions. His attorney went on to describe Baum as “a sick individual who suffers from a medical condition of pathological intoxication.”
The attorney from the New Jersey Crime Victims’ Law Center feels that Baum’s defense is just a gimmick and said the only time you see such a defense is on a television show, such as Law and Order.
John Kip Cornwell, an associate dean and professor of law at Seton Hall Law School, likened Baum’s pathological intoxication defense to an insanity defense.
“It’s a very rare defense. He’s trying to thread a needle that would link all of these things together,” said Cornwell.
Baum has been charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated manslaughter in the April 20, 2006 deaths of Mayada Jafar of Kinnelon, 15, and Athear Jafar of Jefferson, 16. When Baum was arrested for DWI, his blood-alcohol level was 0.305 percent, almost four times higher than New Jersey’s legal limit of 0.08 percent.
The pathological intoxication claim may be allowed, as involuntary intoxication is not prohibited as a defense.