Police report sheds more light on arrest of city judge for DWI

June 07, 2017 03:27 PM

News10NBC is looking more into the arrest of a city judge over the weekend.

State police arrested Judge Leticia Astacio around 8 a.m. Saturday morning on Interstate 490.

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On Monday, we learned Judge Astacio can continue to preside over cases while this misdemeanor charge is pending. But we spoke with the chief administrative judge for this area, and he says he has not yet decided whether she will be allowed to. He tells News10NBC he has directed her not to take the bench on Tuesday.

Astacio, a former assistant DA worked for a time in the DWI bureau, but Monday she is on the other side of the law after being charged with DWI Saturday. We spoke with retired appellate court judge and News10NBC legal analyst Joseph Valentino to find out how Astacio can continue to hear cases while she, herself, is a criminal defendant.

Brett Davidsen: "It does create sort of an issue here whether or not she can fairly judge others."

Joseph Valentino: "The administrative judge, Judge Craig Doran, will have to decide if she should in fact sit on any criminal cases, in specific, any driving while intoxicated cases."

According to state police, she was on the side of the westbound lane on 490 near Mount Read Boulevard. Her car had heavy front end damage and two flat tires on the driver's side. In the police report, a trooper says he smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Astacio's breath and charged her with DWI. She refused the breath test.

The report does not say where she was coming from or heading to. But we do know she was scheduled to hear arraignments in city court Saturday morning. We went to Judge Astacio's house on Monday today to try to get answers from her, but no one answered the door.

David Morabito, attorney: "The dealings I've had with her have always been very professional. I think she's a very good judge."

David Morabito is a defense attorney who has had cases in front of Astacio in the past.

Brett Davidsen: "So you don't think her being charged with this DWI disqualifies her from doing her job as a judge?"

David Morabito: "Not at all. I'm sure she can put it aside and she has to, she's a judge."

Judge Astacio is scheduled to appear in court -- as a defendant -- on March 11.

If she were to be found guilty, she would not necessarily be removed from the bench. The state has a judicial conduct commission which would take up any disciplinary measures. Because this is a misdemeanor, it's less likely she would automatically be dismissed. In fact, there was a case within the past 20 years involving a judge in Steuben County who pled guilty to DWI. He was given a censure and allowed to continue hearing cases.


Brett Davidsen - whec_@bdavidsen

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