When the Shoe is on the Other Foot

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on February 7th, 2005

In the past ten days I’ve commented on three recent incidents — involving a police officer, a prosecutor and a judge — reflecting the double standard within the criminal justice system when it comes to enforcing DUI penalties against one of their own. During that same period of time, a Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court was also arrested for drunk driving. What is of particular note about that case, other than involving the highest judicial officer in the state, was the attitude of that individual caught on videotape. The following excerpts are from the Toledo Blade:

COLUMBUS – Ohio Supreme Court Justice Alice Robie Resnick refused to take a field sobriety test and drove away from police Monday afternoon when confronted with reports she had been driving erratically on I-75 near Bowling Green….

The highway patrol reported receiving six cell phone calls from motorists alerting them to a vehicle weaving across lanes on I-75. A taped copy of one 911 call received at the patrol’s Waldridge post said the vehicle nearly sideswiped her…. A Bowling Green officer and then a highway patrolman approached the vehicle after finding it stopped at a BP gas station at the Bowling Green exit of I-75.

According to the patrol’s report, they took her driver’s license and registration, and she identified herself as a Supreme Court justice…. She denied having had any alcohol or taken any medication…. She refused to take a vision test and drove off despite the officers’ protests, according to police….

"I informed her that she was not free to go," Bowling Green Police Officer Mark Hanson wrote in his report of the incident. "She thanked us, rolled up her window, and drove off." According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, a patrol car and local police caught up to her back on I-75, pulling her over near Cygnet….

"You don’t have a good reason to stop me," she protested when an officer approached her state-owned 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee and spoke to her over the barking of her small dog. On an arrest video released yesterday by the patrol, she could be heard from inside her vehicle saying, "It’s not right. I was not weaving anywhere. ‘ I really cannot tolerate this."

"They later conducted a series of tests, an eye test and a portable breath test, which is not an evidentiary test," said Lt. Rick Zwayer, a patrol spokesman. None of that occurred on camera. She registered a .216 on the portable breath test administered in a patrol car along I-75, twice the legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Later, at the Findlay Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol, Justice Resnick refused to take an official evidentiary Breathalyzer test. A refusal automatically results in a one-year suspension of a driver’s operating license…. On the high court, Justice Resnick has ruled in a number of cases involving drunken-driving issues.

In a later news article, after her arrest Justice Resnick was reported to have asked an officer to let her go. "I decide all these cases in your favor and, my golly, look what you’re doing to me," she said. Side note…..The Toledo Blade somehow obtained copies of the video tapes and immediately released them to the public on their website. Why did the police release the tapes — and so quickly — to the media? And, as TalkLeft asks, what are the chances of this individual getting a fair trial now? Side note #2….For those with full faith in the testimony of officers in DUI cases, it is interesting to note that in one of the videos, an officer comments that he could smell no alcohol on Justice Resnick’s breath, while in another a different officer indicates he does smell alcohol.

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