State Slams LA Superior Court Judge For DUI

Panel: reckless driving 'serious disregard' for ethics

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Los Angeles Superior Court judge who was charged with drunken driving and ended up pleading no contest to reckless driving was publicly admonished Tuesday by the state agency that monitors the conduct of bench officers.

Judge Melissa N. Widdifield has been on the bench since August 2007 and currently hears cases involving involuntary psychiatric hospitalizations.

According to the state Commission on Judicial Performance, Widdifield “drove her vehicle in a reckless manner while under the influence of alcohol” in the early morning hours of Nov. 18, 2009. Her blood-alcohol level was measured at .09 percent, according to the commission.

Two months later, Widdifield was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving while having a .08 percent or higher blood alcohol level. In May, she entered a no contest plea to misdemeanor reckless driving, according to the commission.

Widdifield’s action “evidences a serious disregard of the principles of personal and official conduct embodied in the California Code of Judicial Ethics,” according to the commission, which added that public confidence in jurists is “eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct.”

A Superior Court representative was not immediately available for comment.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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