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Connecticut Judge Suspended for DUI


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2/19/2009
Mindy
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Superior Court Judge E. Curtissa Cofield has been suspended for 240 days from the bench, following her DUI arrest in October. 

Connecticut’s Judicial Review decided to suspend Cofield for 240 days instead of issuing a one-year suspension or recommending that she be removed by the Connecticut Supreme Court.  Before this decision was made, legislators had considered action to remove her from the bench.

Cofield was arrested in Glastonbury for driving drunk.  The night of her arrest, she had sideswiped a state police car, which was occupied by a trooper and parked in a construction zone.

When Cofield was taken to Glastonbury police headquarters, she became uncooperative and started using racist language against police officers.  Cofield especially targeted state police Sgt. Dwight Washington, who is black.  The event was videotaped by police.  Even though her blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit in Connecticut, she lied about drinking. 

Cofield became the first black female judge in Connecticut in 1991.  She is now 60 years-old.  Many of Cofield’s supporters attended the council’s hearing.

Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, said the initial reaction of legislators was that the suspension was sufficiently severe.  However, he did say that he doesn’t think Cofield should be assigned to criminal cases in the future.  “Her ability to appear as impartial in a criminal case has been destroyed,” said Lawlor.

Some people are upset by the 240 day suspension, as they feel that the punishment is not harsh enough.  A staff member with the Connecticut Post wrote, “Her continued presence as a judge will undermine the integrity of the judicial system and invite comparisons of the penalties that face judges who break the law and the penalties that face other defendants.”



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