Judge admits drunk and careless driving

| 15/03/2018 | 89 Comments

(CNS): Grand Court Judge, Justice Ingrid Mangatal (53), pleaded guilty Thursday when she made her first appearance in court to answer charges laid earlier this month of DUI and careless driving. The judge admitted being one and a half times over the limit when she crashed the car she was driving into a small concrete wall on the parameter of Governor’s Square at around 10pm on 4 September last year. Following her admissions the facts of the incident were outlined for the visiting judge, Senior Magistrate Juan Wolffe, who was brought from Bermuda to hear the case. He handed down a 12 month ban and a CI$350 fine in relation to the DUI, plus a $250 fine for careless driving.

The summary traffic case against the judge was presented by Cheryl Richards QC, the director of public prosecutions, who said CCTV had shown, and one eye-witness had seen, the white Suzuki being driven by Justice Mangatal, heading north on the West Bay Road shortly before the smash.

The witness said the car was at times being driven erratically and the brakes frequently applied before the vehicle made a right turn by Governor’s Square, and in averting a collision with another on-coming vehicle, hit a concrete curb then crashed into a concrete sign.

The witness, who had been following the car, went to the aid of the driver and called 911. When the police and emergency services arrived, the judge declined medical treatment but submitted to a breathalyzer test, which gave a reading of 0.157. She was arrested and taken to Fairbanks detention centre before being released on bail.

Ben Tonner QC, who represented Justice Mangatal, detailed her interview with police, where she admitted having consumed three glasses of wine earlier in the evening and that she had taken prescription medication before going to bed earlier because she was very tired.

She had told police she had no memory of leaving home, still in her night-wear, and apparently visiting a fast-food restaurant before the smash. Evidence submitted in the case indicated that the medications she had taken before retiring, mixed with the alcohol and the fatigue, could have caused the amnesia.

However, Mangatal, whom Tonner described as talented, fair-minded and well-respected, chose to accept responsibility and not deny the charges.

The magistrate made note of that when he handed down the ban and fines in line with the statutory minimums for DUI and authorities in relation to the careless driving. Magistrate Wolffe said there was no need to depart from the usual sentences for similar cases and that everyone should be treated the same in relation to the law.

But he said that, given the unique nature of her work and her previously unblemished character, the sentence he handed down paled when compared to the “embarrassing and humiliating” situation for her as a judge.

He noted that she had no previous traffic convictions, had expressed contrition and remorse, admitted the offence at the earliest opportunity and cooperated with the police. He also noted that, despite her knowledge of the law and the circumstances surrounding the incident, where she could have pushed for a trial and made the crown prove its case, she had chosen not to do so, which he said was an indication of her integrity and respect for the administration of justice.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (89)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Driving under the influence of alcohol and endangering the public. I’ll say it again, got off easy. She’s a judge so taking critizism for her crime should be almost mandatory for her line of work. Yes, she is human and made a mistake, this means punishment for her “human” behavior that put others at risk. Does anybody else see this? I mean what if instead of hopping into a car and driving “impaired”, what if she picked up a knife or gun and started strolling down the street “impaired” without any knowledge of what she was doing like all of these alcoholics claim when shit hits the fan. Got off lightly and you should be more embarrassed because of that. Disgusting.

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  2. Observer says:

    She has accepted responsibility, and shouldn’t be crucified. She is only human. At the same time, in the honourable spirit in which she did not dodge responsibility, I think she should resign. An experienced person of the world, at 53, should know that you take a serious risk if you drink 3 glasses of wine while you are on anxiety medication, especially, as it seems in this case, you are alone in your household.

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  3. anonymous says:

    My wife took medication and I would have to lock all doors because she would get up in the night in her night-clothes and try to leave the house while still asleep. She was allergic to alcohol so never drank any. She would have no recollection of anything when she woul wake up the next morning. Someone would always have to be in the house with her.
    The judge is not an alcoholic, she does not need to go to AA. Her Doctor needs to change her medication and the people she lives with; if any, need to be aware of the danger and cater for it.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Way to own up and spare the public cost of not-guilty plea

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  5. Anonymous says:

    I came here today to downvote all of the negative comments that I knew would be here about this judge.
    I too am on a medication that does not allow more than 2-3 drinks. However, I know this. She obviously didn’t realize.
    You drink driving hypocrites need to vent elsewhere.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    The sentences that have been handed down recently by the judiciary are atrocious and don’t represent what normal joe public believe in

    Her sentence is disgusting. She should have be held to account a lot higher than anyone else ..it’s a disgrace

    Seems that judges / politicians and anyone related to then get off lightly

    What about the rest of us??

    We have adults who prey on our children that get lenient sentences! The case of the police officer being knocked unconscious and now this !

    When we have no faith in the judiciary people will take the law into their own hands !!

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    • Anonymous says:

      You are absolutely correct. No wonder our young people have gone astray. When those who should be setting a good example are displaying a total disregard for law and order.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Compared to Police Insp. Adrian Barnett I think she’s got off extremely lightly don’t you think?………..very unfair!!!

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  8. Anonymous says:

    governor, so what next for this judge? the then present governor removed kustice levers on the advice of privy council? equality?

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    • Sure says:

      There appears to be no interest to remove Justice Mangatal. Justice Mangatal did not upset the Powers That Be, whereas Justice Levers appears to have done just that.

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      • Anon says:

        To “Sure” at 9:25 am: no dear the two cases are entirely different. As my mother would say, like a chalk and cheese. So don’t even go there.

        You obviously don’t recall the open, transparent judicial hearing in which Levers, bless her soul, was relieved of her duties.

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        • Sure says:

          “Open and transparent.” Lol. Did your mother have an expression for funny people like you who fail to realize how truly funny they are? When is anything ever “open and transparent” in the Cayman Islands? Yes, I do recall the judicial hearing where Levers was relieved of her duties – and my first thought regarding that matter is what a big joke it was. Levers did not get herself into trouble for doing the same things that led to her dismissal, until she crossed the wrong people – only then were those matters used as an excuse to have her removed. Open your eyes friend, the world is not full of sugarpop and candy. “Open and transparent”…tell me another funny joke, I beg you!

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      • Anon says:

        To Sure: Levers cases had to do with the professional performance of her duties in numerous documented instances. The extensive hearings were held in open court and reported on in copious detail by the newspapers and other media.

        There is no questions about Mangatal’s professional conduct and execution of her duties.

        This is one issue, and it hinges largerly on her personal life.

        No doubt this will never recur.

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        • Sure says:

          Levers did no more no less than what many other Justices do around the world. In some cases she may have demonstrated a lack of diplomacy. In no other place, other than the Cayman Islands, would she have been removed for this – a slap on the hand perhaps, certainly not removal. One would argue that drink driving, although not a criminal offence in the Cayman Islands, is far worse than what Levers ever did. No, Levers’ big crime was to step on the wrong people’s toes, to badmouth the wrong people, etc.

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          • Anon says:

            So “Sure” your defense for Levers is that everyone is doing it? Still trying out that height school logic?

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            • Sure says:

              Not sure what “height school” logic means, but to answer your question, no, my defense is not that “everyone is doing it”. The defense is that the things that Levers has done, and other justices around the world do regularly, are not things that they are removed for. At most, they get a slap over the hand for it…if even that. Removal of a Justice in most countries is nearly impossible… and certainly not because she lacked courtroom decorum. Again, the argument is that she stepped on the toes of those who had the power to remove her. And that is why she was eventually removed. Just like good old McKeeva… He too did not mind his Ps and Qs and arrogantly told the incoming governor that HM is in his house now – only to later find out whose house he truly was in…

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          • Judicial watch says:

            I have been following this discussion which frankly seems to be pointless.

            However, I cannot let it pass without commenting: yes, there are many judges around the world who conduct themselves not only inappropriately but also distastefully and even in contrary to proper Court decorum.

            But that is not the standard we should seek to uphold. It is certainly not the standard for Cayman Island judges who are to a man the soul of propriety. We can be proud of them all.

            And we want to keep it that way, thank you.

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            • Sure says:

              So what standard should we seek to uphold? Drink driving judges? Or how about a Justice who used to frequent a drinking establishment to play dominoes, which in my books isn’t a bad thing, but certainly not the “soul of propriety” as you call it (this Justice was admonished for this matter). Or, in Lever’s case, removing her, not because of her poor Court decorum (this was only the excuse), but because she pissed off the wrong people? Was that Caymanian propriety incarnate? Just because someone stabs you while wearing a suit and a smile does not make it less painful.

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        • Anonymous says:

          This will never recur because you have a magical mirror that tells you about the future?

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          • Anon says:

            No, 1:23 am. But I am a good judge of human nature.

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            • Anonymous says:

              Lol 12:25 a.m. Lots of people think they’re good judges of human nature and character until the end up on 48 Hours, 20/20, or Cold Case files. Got another funny joke?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Mrs Levers was a liability to the nation’s legal system, Mrs Mangatal is an asset.

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      • Anon says:

        Exactly, 12:57 pm. Well said.

        But we have people like “Sure” who have blinders on.

        So sad that we cannot face the truth.

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        • Sure says:

          Do you not have any original thoughts of your own, or do you just like to parrot back what others have to say?

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      • Sure says:

        Really? I’d suggest that had you been out that evening when Mrs. Mangatal drove drunk, that she was a bigger liability to your health than Mrs. Levers.

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        • Observer says:

          10:46 pm: You obviously have a lot of bitterness over Levers’ sad downfall. No one rejoiced about her sad decline—it is always painful to see a career collapse so ignominiously. Hope you can come to terms with that in time. Bitterness is a weighty burden to carry.

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          • Anonymous says:

            You obvioulsy want to minimize a judges poor decision making skill, a skill she is paid well over what others make . This is just another case of TFF: Too many friends in high places to fail.

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          • Sure says:

            No bitterness, but what’s fair is fair. Her career was terminated because she didn’t play nice with some of her colleagues. So no burden, but thanks for being thoughtful. As to nobody rejoicing, I am sure some did. You probably aren’t aware of that because those who did don’t mingle with the common folk.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Got off easy. She should have to attend AA for a year. Embarrassment has nothing to do with justice of the law. This legal system we have here stinks. It’s a failing system.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Attend AA, because you were drinking before going to bed? Better get a big meeting room.

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      • C.I.G you stink says:

        No, attend AA because she was under the influence of alcohol while driving which is incredibly irresponsible on her part and endangered the lives of drivers on the road. She got off lightly both ways, she could have killed someone that night for heavens sake. A little slap on the wrist and some “embarrasment” as the other judge put is not adequate punishment for her crime and part in endangering the public. Cops looking out for cops, judges looking out for other judges, and they wonder why this system stinks and is failing. Christ you can get away with murder if you got the right last name, connections and skin color in Cayman today.

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        • Anonymous says:

          AA is for alcoholics. The clue is in the name. There is no evidence that the judge has any drink problem.

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  10. Caymanian DUI says:

    I love reading one of some of these posts, especially the one that states “since when can you plead your 1st time in court” of course you can plead your 1st time in court.
    It’s time to drop this, many people in senior positions drink amd drive but haven’t been caught.

    The judge did the right thing plead guilty and deal with the consequences. She made a mistake hopefully she has learnt from it.

    Everyone wants her suspended, why? This is a traffic offense, not criminal, all of you do key Caymanians watch to much US TV. We have different laws here. You ignorant people.

    Oh and before you make comments I’m Caymanian and an ex cop.

    Drive driving is a problem thought out the Caribbean as our parents taught us how to drive drunk, we also are to produce to take a cab or have someone drive us home, so how do we solve this problem.

    1) education
    2) better bus service at a reasonable price
    3) maybe if caught DUI your car will be seized for a period.
    4) larger fines
    Lastly not sure if you know we have one of the highest DUI limits in the world at 0.1,majority of the world now is at 0.8 and lower.

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    • Anonymous says:

      .1 is less than .8

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      • Anonymous says:

        After dealing all day with some of the crap lawyers/ judges have to would drive anyone to drink ( no pun intended)

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        • Anonymous says:

          Teachers deal with 10 times more crap than any lawer or judge,but they get paid 10 times less, and many do not drink!

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          • Anon says:

            1:57 pm: I am a teacher and I will take the classroom any day over the courtroom.

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            • Anonymous says:

              Of course you will, and I am sure you drink some of your special coffee so the studens think you are always that happy 24/7.

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            • Anonymous says:

              I’m sure your one of the popular clowns who thinks you are teaching when you are just giving other teachers more work to make up for what you don’t teach in class. “Everybody gets an A and it is everybodys birthday each day, and can you please fill me in on the latest gossip about your other teachers…we will get to the lesson plan later, much later.”

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          • Anonymous says:

            Absolutely. When someone acts reckless and foolish in a courtroom, judges have the right to admonish them and to punish them for it. When kids act foolish and reckless in the classroom, teachers are admonished for not having had a “fun enough” lesson for the kids… Because that’s what teachers signed up for, to be clowns and entertainers…

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          • Anonymous says:

            Ha! You must not know many teachers.

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            • Anonymous says:

              Ha, you have a surface knowledge of what teachers really think.

              • Anon says:

                Some harsh commentary on teachers and the teaching experience.

                It is true that teaching has never been more challenging, but there are teachers who actually love teaching and are good at it.

                To label teachers as “clowns and entertainers” — painful to hear such distorted thinking.

      • Caymanian DUI says:

        Sorry we are at 0.1 and the rest of the world is less than 0.08 Typo…
        As stated we have one of the highest drinking limits in the world.
        All depending on sex and weight
        Minimum
        4 glasses of wine
        5-6 beers
        3 shots
        And you maybe just above our limit.
        Personally, i have tested myself drinking alot more than above over approximately 4 hours and I was under the limit. I felt light headed and didn’t drive of course,but I’m one of the responsible ones, I have a son who picks me up.. It’s great!
        Of course this depends also on over a period of time and what you have eaten.
        Some countries (I beleive Norway) are 0 tolerance and fines can be 1000s of dollars.
        We need to stop bitchin, complaining about the police not doing enough road blocks. It’s how do we educate our drivers to be responsible, it’s not up to government to solve this problem, it’s starts with us!

    • Anonymous says:

      Think you meant 0.08 is lower than 0.1, not 0.8 is lower than 0.1.

      Had a few drinks also old chap? See you posted this at 3am lol.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    She should have been given a ten year custodial sentence. Total disregard for law and order. If anyone should know better it was her. Poor example for young people to follow. Full of alcohol and behind the wheel of an automobile. Total disgrace.

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    • Anonymous says:

      How exactly would that benefit you to jail the good lady? Have you ever drunk and drive? I am pleased the good lady was dealt with kindly.

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  12. Arlene Chang says:

    I am happy for her, I know her very well from Jamaica, a well respected and brilliant Judge also knew her Parents. Very decent Family, SO SORRY this had to happen, thank God it is over.my

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    • Maybe says:

      I wouldn’t call a judge who drinks and drives as “brilliant”.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I agree with you100%. Far from brilliant. Poor example for law abiding citizens.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Commenter meant “Brilliant” in her profession as a judge obviously.

        From your logic, someone could be extremely good at their job but if they make an error in judgement in another area of their life, suddenly they are no longer good at their job?
        Bloody hell!

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        • Maybe says:

          That’s a pretty HUGE error for a judge to make, especially when it falls in the realm of her job. Bloody hell right!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well respected and brilliant Judge who drinks and drives? You must have some really low standards.

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      • Anon says:

        She DOES possess a brilliant mind. That is why she is where she is.

        I have never heard one word said about her judgments or her general performance of her duties.

        Do she IS absolutely brilliant.

        But ultimately we are all human.

        I guess 11:18 pm you have never had regrets in your personal life?

        You are sinless? I guess that is why you are trying to throw those stones?

        Good thing they are so light weight.

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        • Maybe says:

          Love your logic… She possesses a brilliant mind because of where she is. So I guess that makes Donald Trump a brilliant mind as well. Hitler must have had a brilliant mind as well, correct? What about Stalin? Did Stalin have a brilliant mind? Ultimately we are all human…that’s about the most sensible thing you said. And yes, we all make mistakes. I would argue that endangering peoples’ lives by drinking and driving is a pretty big Oooops! I would argue that murdering someone is a pretty big Ooooops as well. I would argue that jaywalking is a smaller Ooops…what she did wasn’t a smaller Ooops, but rather a bigger one.

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          • Anon says:

            11;03 pm: You are comparing judges to political despots or elected politicians.

            Judges are appointed on the strength of character and their legal accomplishments, by a select group of people who eminently qualified to do so.

            So it is your “logic” that is fallacious.

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            • Maybe says:

              Re-read your statement : “She DOES possess a brilliant mind. That is why she is where she is.” Based on your statement, my logic is perfect. In addition, there are many “brilliant” people who make and have made poor decisions. So just for the fact that she may be “brilliant” does not provide her with a freebie. Lastly, I question the “brilliant” part. What exactly has she done that is so brilliant? It seems that anyone with any bit of education is considered “brilliant” in the Cayman Islands, whereas in any other part of the world, they may be average at best.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Mind you, an ex-politician just got done for the third time and still only got a year and minimal fine. I’m sure there were extenuating circumstances, again……

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  14. Anonymous says:

    This is less than a third of usual fine, without alcohol treatment program or additional deterrent.

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    • Anonymous says:

      True. I had a similar DUI but no accident, and was fined $700, 1 year ban, and a driving/drinking course.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You were in your night clothes?

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      • Anon says:

        10:13 pm: it depends on what you mean by “similar “.

        The court took into consideration that she did not deliberately get into her car and drive under the influence.

        Because of the effect of the medication, she got up out of bed and drove her car unaware of what she was doing, sounds like—a sort of sleep walking. That is an unintentional act.

        On the other hand, If you are at a bar and drink over the limit and get into your car and drive that is an intentional act.

        The law regards intention as a critical factor in sentencing. For example, If you accidentally kill someone that is not murder and has a lesser or no sentence, depending on circumstances.

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      • Anonymous says:

        The court took into consideration that she is a judge. The court should see cases not persons.

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      • Anon says:

        Yep, anonymous at 10:13 pm. That sounds about right. Get behind the wheel drink intentionally and you get the book thrown at you. I would say your punishment was just about right and I hope you learned your lesson well.

        Check out the fact of this case and you will see an entirely different scenario. It is all about intention.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Or it could suggest that she needs substance abuse therapy?!? She almost KILLED someone.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    So many questions. Since when have you been able to plead at your very first appearance? Since when does it not matter (the other way around!) that you’re supposed to be setting an example? Since when do you get the minimum disqualification period and (almost) minimum fine for having a BAC of .16? How was the sentence calculated? How was it merely ‘careless’ of her to be driving in a manner that almost hit another car head on and then damage property? And if she continues to sit as a Grand Court judge (because I didn’t hear anything about her leaving the bench), is it confirmed then as a matter of precedent that traffic crimes, no matter who you are and what you did, are officially separate from your fitness to hold a public office or profession of high reputation?

    Really, this is justice applied equally to all?

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    • Anonymous says:

      She made a mistake and admitted it….move on.

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      • Anonymous says:

        She had no choice but to admit it. She gets credit for facing it dead on, no question. But they took the maximum amount of time to charge her and the minimum amount of time to complete the rest of the process, and she got the minimum punishment. The whole thing looks as if it has been ‘managed’ from the start. Plus, if you’re mixing alcohol and sleeping pills because you ‘don’t fully appreciate the risks’ (i.e. you think you know better than the warning on the box), then you’re likely finding life to be pretty difficult. No doubt she is, and now it’s become even harder. I have a lot of empathy for her. I also know that I had a similar DUI and had to do several things, including the DUI awareness course, to get a higher sentence than she did. I’ll move on from noting the unfairness of this at my own convenience.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Everyone has the option of pleading guilty at their first hearing. Many don’t because they feel as if they can beat the case. She did the right thing by accepting responsibility (which is what pleading guilty is) and taking the consequences of her action. The bigger question is whether or not this disqualifies her from doing her job. I think in the Court of Public Opinion she should be drawn and quartered but thank goodness we don’t rely on public opinion to make these decisions. She is an excellent judge and if she does have an issue with drinking etc., then I am hopeful that she will be seeking help. This is a big stain on her whole character and possibly something from which she might never recover. This is why AA is so necessary. Gives you an opportunity to not only continue to accept responsibility but to seek help going forward.

      I do hope she maintains her job on the bench because she has been doing a fantastic job so far and we really need more women on the bench in this jurisdiction and especially at the level where she is now.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Alcohol and meds don’t mix well. Glad the lady did not hurt herself or anyone else.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    The lady is human, she admitted her mistake.
    Please let her move on.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    ‘Evidence submitted in the case indicated that the medications she had taken before retiring, mixed with the alcohol and the fatigue, could have caused the amnesia.’ LOL, and she’s been sitting in judgment on criminal cases. Brace yourself for a s*** load of mis-trial applications on cases she’s heard in the recent past.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Only if you can prove that during those cases she was taking the medication that causes amnesia and drinking while on that medication! Don’t be ignorant!

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    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve mixed meds and alcohol before. Total loss of memory. And mis trial for what? She’s not drinking on the job. She probably had to have a drink that night because the crap she has to deal with all day. I don’t blame her but I do hope she learnt her lesson on meds and booze together. That is no joke. Wish her well and hope she knows the majority of us are cheering for her to move on from something she took full responsibility for.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Good on the Judge and Mr. Tonner, this sets an example of how justice should be dealt with. If your guilty you say so and get the matter dealt with.
    Unlike many scrupulous attorneys on this island who know full well there clients are guilty but drag it out for years for the fees. Civil servants and government officials current and ex take note of the example set.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I completely agree with her decision not to waste the court’s time. Now perhaps she should quit because I cannot see how she will be taken as having any authority. Sorry but as a judge she has to be held at a higher standard of behaviour. I wish her the very best.

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      • Anon says:

        I agree judges should be held to a higher standard, but don’t forget that they have the same blood coursing through their veins as you and I and are also human.

        And to err is human.

        I know this woman and I know she has the highest respect for the law and would never in any way think she is above the law.

        This an absolute low point in the life of someone who has dedicated herself to the law and does not have a reckless, impetuous bone in her.

        No one is more disturbed about what has happened than she.

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