Monday, March 10, 2008

More fallout?

Perhaps everyone should just be quiet and let itself get sorted out.

Ken Rodriguez: Fellow judge: Angelini didn't sound drunk on night of arrest
Ken RodriguezSan Antonio Express-News

It's not your everyday, simple misdemeanor.
The details and politics behind a recent DWI charge are getting complicated.

Consider the new potential witness in the drunken driving case against District Judge Raymond Angelini: his longtime Republican colleague and friend, District Judge Sharon MacRae.

MacRae was not in the car when police stopped Angelini around 10 p.m. on the night of Feb. 28. But she was on the phone with him.
"He said, 'I'm getting pulled over. I'll call you back,'" MacRae told me Friday.
Did Angelini sound coherent and sober?
"Yes," MacRae said. "He sounded like himself."

Do you expect to be called as a witness if his case goes to trial?
"I have no idea," she said. "I'm sure that will be up to the lawyer."
I could not reach Angelini's lawyer for comment. But it's hard to imagine a stronger defense witness than a district court judge.

No your honor, the defendant did not sound drunk.

There is, however, a potential downside to having MacRae testify. She's likely to contradict something Angelini told police. According to the incident report, Angelini said he'd just visited the home of a judge "who is losing a family member."

MacRae says her father was in the emergency room the night of the DWI arrest. She lost him the next day.

Angelini, she explains, must be referring to her. But he never went to her home.
"I did not see Raymond at all that day," MacRae said. "I don't know where that information came from, but it's not true."

An SAPD spokesman says it's not a crime to lie to police about where you've been. It is a crime to lie about your identity. Angelini did not do that.

Even so, MacRae's account raises questions about Angelini's truthfulness. So does the police report. It says Angelini initially denied drinking. But after an officer said he could smell alcohol on Angelini's breath, the jurist admitted consuming "maybe three drinks."

More than an hour after officers stopped him, one source says, police took a videotape of Angelini at the Magistrate's Office. The source says Angelini looks good on the tape — in sharp contrast to the swaying man described in the police report. But the source also says defendants tend to sober up when faced with the consequences of DWI. And it won't help that Angelini refused a breath test.

Meanwhile, the case has been assigned to a special prosecutor in Medina County. And lawyers and judges are questioning the motivations of District Attorney Susan Reed, a close friend of Angelini and MacRae.

Many say she overreached by asking Angelini to recuse himself from all felony cases until his DWI charge is resolved.

Some suggest the motion was Reed's attempt to divert attention from the Southwest Airlines scandal.

"That's nuts," Reed said. "I don't line stuff up and make it happen. To suggest it is far beyond anything I can imagine."

Reed purchased three Southwest tickets that turned out to be stolen. She says she didn't know they were stolen and wasn't charged. But skeptics wonder why she hasn't been held accountable.
"The consensus of the judges I've spoken with," says one judge who knows Reed, "is the motion was about Southwest Airlines."
Simple misdemeanor?

One DWI charge ripples across the county and beyond, touching judges, lawyers, a district attorney, a special prosecutor and a skeptical public.

Before Judge Angelini's arrest became public, the charge was a misdemeanor. It has since become a big, tangled mess.