A Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals judge can continue working -- even hearing cases involving DUI charges -- despite his own arrest last week for driving under the influence, court officials have said.
The judge was arrested while in Knoxville. Though he's required by judicial conduct codes to "respect and comply with the law," the code doesn't prohibit him from hearing cases while facing misdemeanor charges.
A spokesperson for the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts said it was too early to comment on whether or not the judge would continue to hear cases.
A disciplinary counsel was likewise unwilling to say if the judge would be disciplined or restricted in duties in any way.
The Tennessee Supreme Court's Code of Judicial Conduct says jurists must "act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." This applies to personal conduct as well as professional behavior.
Police said the judge in question, 58, was driving on a Knoxville street just before midnight when he was pulled over by a police officer who noticed that the rear hatch on the judge's Subaru Forester was open.
A piece of luggage was apparently ready to fall out of the vehicle, court records indicate.
The officer reported that the judge smelled of alcohol, had trouble forming words and failed a field sobriety test. He then refused to submit to a blood alcohol test.
He was taken to Knox County Jail shortly after two in the morning and then released on his own recognizance just before 6 a.m., according to a County Sheriff's spokesperson.
He's been on the Court of Appeals since 1995.
Source: WBIR, "TN Court of Criminal Appeals judge can work despite DUI arrest," April 25, 2012