Oakland Co. judge gets 45-day suspension for traffic stop
Lansing — The Michigan Supreme Court ordered Thursday that an Oakland County judge arrested last September for suspected drunken driving take a 45-day unpaid suspension from the bench.
Julie McDonald was a candidate for circuit court when she was arrested about 11 a.m. Sept. 8 on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak after a police officer said he saw her toss something out her driver-side window and turn onto the busy roadway without signaling.
McDonald, 49, of Bloomfield Hills, defeated two write-in candidates in November and began a six-year term in January for the newly created judgeship. The position pays about $148,000 a year.
She waived her rights before the Judicial Tenure Commission and consented to a sanction no greater than the 45-day suspension without pay.
During the police stop, she initially had difficulty with field sobriety tests and said she had four vodka-and-soda drinks the night before. Police recorded a .08 blood alcohol level, at which a motorist is considered intoxicated.
She subsequently pleaded guilty to careless driving and littering and agreed to pay in excess of $2,000 in court fees and costs in exchange for dismissal of the misdemeanor drunken-driving charge. McDonald was placed on probation.
District Judge Jamie Wittenberg ordered McDonald to undergo daily testing for alcohol use, perform 40 hours of community service and attend Alcoholics Anonymous and Mothers Against Drunk Driving meetings.
The initial offenses carried a 93-day jail sentence, rarely given out in such cases. Her probation runs until December.
The Judicial Tenure Commission investigated her behavior and, in an agreement with McDonald, recommended the 45-day unpaid suspension.
An Oakland Circuit Court administrator said Thursday it was not known when the suspension would take place and that a visiting judge would likely be appointed to pick up McDonald’s caseload during the suspension.