Judge's case could snarl local courts
By Gary Popp
Published in News on December 5, 2011 1:46 PM
Court dockets in the 8th Judicial District are in a state of flux after a local judge was charged with driving under the influence of prescription drugs.
District Court Judge Lonnie Carraway of Greene County was charged Nov. 23 with driving under the influence after his car ran off the road and into a ditch near Hookerton.
Chief District Court Judge David Brantley has since revamped the judges' schedules.
Brantley said he has removed Carraway from DWI courts, some criminal cases, and has taken him completely out of Greene County until his case is resolved. The 8th Judicial District includes Wayne, Greene and Lenoir counties.
Brantley said he wants to keep Carraway out of Greene County courts to prevent him from working trials where he might interact with the state trooper who placed him under arrest nearly a week ago.
"I didn't think it would be appropriate for him to do court in Snow Hill, his home county," Brantley said.
The chief judge said he plans to continue having Carraway rule in civil assignments, domestic violence lawsuits and civil matters.
Brantley said the scheduling of the district court judges is usually a juggling act, and that this situation has exacerbated that problem.
"It is like a balloon. You push in one place and it bulges in another," he said.
And normalcy isn't likely to return to the district judges' schedule, at least until after Carraway's case, which is currently scheduled for Greene County's DWI court in March, is heard. The case could be delayed if the blood sample he provided for impairment analysis by the SBI is not available.
The 55-year-old judge is a Greene County resident who lives in Walstonburg.
After being taken into custody by a Highway Patrol trooper, Carraway was evaluated by a drug recognition expert from a separate agency, who declared the judge to be under the influence of prescription medication.
The accident report completed by the trooper was released last week.
The report lists Carraway's physical condition as "impairment due to medication, drugs, (or) alcohol." Another category on the report lists the suspected impairment as "other drugs," not alcohol. The report also lists the contributing circumstances to the cause of the incident as inattention and drug use.
The report continues that road condition was dry, the weather was clear and there were no visual impairments when Carraway, the only occupant of the car, drove off the road.