Tuesday, December 18, 2007

California District Attorney pleads No Contest to DUI

California DUI lawyer - drunk driving attorney news

Shasta County deputy district attorney who formerly prosecuted drunk driving cases pleaded no contest Monday to a single misdemeanor charge of Vehicle Code Section 23152 California DUI .

Patricia Jean Haley, 28, was sentenced to 36 months informal probation, 48 hours in jail and must complete an alcohol treatment rehabilitation program as well as pay California DUI fines.

Haley wasn't present at Monday's hearing before retired Lassen County Judge Joseph B. Harvey. She entered the California DUI plea through her Redding criminal defense attorney, Joe Gazzigli.

"She wanted to get this thing resolved personally, administratively and in the courts," Gazzigli said after the hearing held at the Shasta County Juvenile Justice

Center, where Harvey was hearing cases Monday.

Harvey presided over the case after Shasta County's judges declined to hear it because of a perceived conflict. An attorney for the California Attorney General's office acted as prosecutor because of a similar conflict of interest with the county District Attorney's Office.

District Attorney Jerry Benito on Monday also released the details of Haley's discipline within the DA's office.

Her punishment includes 30 days without pay, effective Dec. 1, a demotion and pay decrease. Haley's demotion is from a Level II attorney to a Level I.

A Level I attorney makes between $55,680 and $71,064 a year, while a Level II attorney makes between $60,192 and $76,836, according to the county personnel department's Web site.

Haley no longer will be specializing in California DUI drunk driving cases, Benito said. She's been on leave since her Nov 17 arrest.

Benito said in a prepared statement that Haley has shown significant remorse and has been more than forthcoming about her arrest -- telling her superiors about it that day -- and that she has cooperated with the DA's office internal investigation.

Haley had been with the office for only a year, and was bumped up to prosecute DUIs full time a week before her California DUI arrest, Benito said.

He called her a great, hardworking and caring prosecutor. Before her California DUI arrest, she earned the respect of judges, crime victims and others in the prosecutor's office, he said.

Haley agreed to disclose the conditions of her discipline despite personnel rules that grant public employees secrecy in such matters, Benito said.

"She has completely taken responsibility for her actions, Benito said.

Benito's statement also includes new details of Haley's California DUI arrest.

According to the statement, Haley gave some friends a ride home on the night of Nov. 17 after drinking "several" drinks with them at a Redding bar.

A California Highway Patrol officer saw her stopped near Argyle Road and Hartnell Avenue with the rear end of her vehicle protruding about four feet into the roadway.

The California DUI officer flashed his lights and checked Haley for DUI after smelling alcohol on her breath. She registered a .14 on a preliminary blood-alcohol breath test. The legal limit in California is .08.

She was arrested and booked into Shasta County jail for California DUI , and released after taking two other breath tests that registered a .10 and a .11 blood alcohol content, according to Benito's statement.

Benito has commended Haley for not flashing her badge, identifying herself as a prosecutor or asking for special treatment.

Haley's California DUI arrest wasn't the first time in Shasta County in recent years that a person with a badge -- or even a prosecutor -- has been convicted of driving drunk.

In February 2003, former Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Campbell was arrested by the CHP after crashing her car into a utility pole near Deschutes Road and Suncrest Ridge in Bella Vista, according to the arrest report filed with her case file in Shasta County court.

Campbell registered a .19 blood-alcohol content after consenting to a blood test, documents show. She also identified herself as a deputy district attorney after the CHP officer saw her badge in her wallet, according to the report.

She pleaded no contest and received a sentenced similar to Haley's, with the exception that she was ordered to pay Pacific Gas & Electric $7,445 for damaging the power pole, court documents show.

Benito, who wasn't at the DA's Office when Campbell worked for the department, declined to release the details of her discipline report, citing personnel confidentiality rules.

A message left Monday at the Redding attorney's office where Campbell now works was not returned.

Redding Police Officer Christopher Jacoby was the second badge holder convicted of DUI in recent years.

Jacoby was arrested on March 24, 2006, after CHP officers found his car had careened off an embankment on the side of Highway 44 near Millville Plains Road, according to a CHP arrest report filed with Shasta County courts.

When he handed an officer his driver's license, he also handed him a Redding police business card, according to the report.

He registered a .206 blood-alcohol level during a preliminary breath test, the report showed.

Aside from fines and 36-months probation, Jacoby's no contest plea came with a 10-day jail sentence.

Redding Police Chief Leonard Moty declined to release the conditions of Jacoby's discipline within the police department, citing California law that forbids officer disciplinary records from being disclosed to the public.

Other Northern California DUI attorney's clients:

69 drivers, including 25 in Shasta County, were arrested from Friday through Sunday as part of a five-county operation targeting drunken drivers, it was announced Monday.

The DUI operation, dubbed North State Regional Avoid, runs through Jan. 1.

Since it began on Friday, 35 DUI arrests have been made in Butte County, while 25 arrests were made in Shasta County. There also have been five arrests in Tehama County, four in Siskiyou County.