Judge fret ‘losing entire career’ after cops stopped her on drunk-driving suspicion amid high-profile homicide case | EUROtoday

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Harris County Judge Kelli Johnson, whose sudden multi-week absence from the bench prompted concern and confusion, was pulled over as cops suspected her of drunk driving throughout a high-profile homicide trial.

New recordings from that night time present how the choose pleaded with cops and advised them she “could lose my entire career.”

The April 12 cease got here after officers noticed her recklessly driving, together with driving on the mistaken facet of the street, consuming, her cellphone, dashing, and making an unsafe lane change, in keeping with Harris County Sheriff’s Office physique digicam footage obtained by ABC13.

Some of the audio from the 8 pm cease couldn’t be heard. But, the report famous it was clear when Johnson reportedly stated “I’m a judge” in the course of the cease.

Judge Kelli Johnson was absent from court in Harris County, Texas, for over three weeks, prompting questions about her whereabouts and wellbeing. New details show she was pulled over for suspicion of DUI during a high-profile murder trial.
Judge Kelli Johnson was absent from court docket in Harris County, Texas, for over three weeks, prompting questions on her whereabouts and wellbeing. New particulars present she was pulled over for suspicion of DUI throughout a high-profile homicide trial. (Justex/ District Courts of Harris County)

In the April 12 video, the officers could be heard discussing how they imagine they may odor the choose had been ingesting, and the official seems to say her place within the hopes of avoiding punishment.

A second officer arrived, and so they determined to place the choose via a area sobriety take a look at.

“If I do this test and you don’t think I do well, I lose my career and this,” the choose requested deputy Sandy Mace. “I mean, can you call, like, a witness? Can we call Ben Katrib? I’ll call Sidney Miller. Sheriff (Ed) Gonzalez. This is a huge deal for me.”

A supervising officer, Sergeant Collin McHugh, then steps in.

“Everything we do is recorded on that camera. This body camera. Everything here. We are not calling Lt. Katrib, and we are not calling Sheriff Gonzalez. This is an investigation into an impaired driver,” McHugh says.

“I could lose my entire career,” Johnson repeats.

“And here’s the thing, your honor, I could lose my entire career if I let you use your position of you being a judge to do this,” McHugh says

“I’m not using a position,” Johnson replies.

The judge also claimed she hadn’t been drinking but rather had had a long week after taking part in the trial of Brian Coulter, a man found guilty of beating his girlfriend’s 8-year-old son to death in 2020.

The officers ultimately concluded that Johnson hadn’t shown enough signs of impairment in a field sobriety test to warrant an arrest, and let her off with a warning for driving 77 mph in a 65 mph zone.

“She’s probably been drinking, just not the level of,” a deputy stated within the footage.

Johnson went missing from the bench for weeks after the high-profile trial.
Johnson went missing from the bench for weeks after the high-profile trial. (Kelli Johnson/Facebook)

The Independent has contacted Johnson for comment.

Sheriff’s officials defended their actions.

“Deputies use discretion with the issuance of citations,” a sheriff’s department official told ABC13. “If there are usually not sufficient indicators to point impairment, then an arrest wouldn’t be an acceptable plan of action.”

The judge was previously in the news for taking a sudden, multi-week absence from the 178th Criminal District Court.

Anonymous court staff described concerns about the judge’s mental wellbeing, describing her as manic and “a danger to herself and to the community.”

A Houston Police Department report, in the meantime, described a May 4 go to to her house citing “disturbance/CIT,” the latter an abbreviation for disaster intervention.

Clay Johnson, the choose’s brother, stated hypothesis concerning the absence was unfounded.

“She’s not missing, she’s on medical leave,” he advised The Daily Beast. “She’s in touch with the family, and everything is fine… and that’s about all I can say.”

Johnson’s absence from the courtroom got here weeks after presiding over the Coulter trial.

“This is probably one of the most horrific sets of facts that I have ever had to witness, to listen to and to imagine,” the choose stated in the course of the trial.