Former Justice Court Judge Says Crash Didn’t Lead To Her Resignation – Competitive Dance Did
PROVO, Utah — A former justice court judge and her lawyer expressed a measure of vindication Tuesday after two misdemeanor charges were dismissed.
The charges were in connection to a crash into a parked car in which the woman was accused of leaving the scene of the accident.
According to a police report, Carolyn Howard — then a justice court judge in Saratoga Springs — was heading eastbound on 3700 North on July 24 when investigators said she made a left-hand turn onto 100 East, hitting the east gutter and running into the back of a parked SUV.
“Witnesses said that (the vehicle) then tried to leave but was stopped by them,” the report from Provo Police read.
After Howard had subsequently spoken to the car’s owner, the report stated that the owner “said that she never told Carolyn that she could leave, but that Carolyn just told her she would take care of it and then left the accident.”
The report also stated that multiple witnesses expressed concern that the driver of the vehicle was impaired.
“Almost two hours after the accident occurred I talked with the driver,” the responding officer wrote. “I noticed multiple signs of impairment, but (due) to time (lapse) and time where the driver was alone no DUI investigation occurred.”
Among the alleged potential signs of impairment the officer noted was that “her balance was poor and she swayed while standing.” The report also noted that Howard twice handed over a health insurance card “believing it was her car insurance.”
While Howard was never investigated for possible impairment over what was documented in the police report, she was charged with class C misdemeanors of accident involving property damage, duties of operator and operating a vehicle without insurance, along with an infraction for an improper left-hand turn.
On Sept. 9, Howard pleaded not guilty to the charges and infraction.
At a hearing Tuesday, Howard’s lawyer told the Provo City Justice Court an agreement had been reached with prosecutors to drop the two misdemeanor charges.
“She has provided proof of insurance, she had it at all times — just didn’t have it in the vehicle that day,” attorney John Allan told the judge. “I do want to make a record that leaving the scene of an accident is being dismissed based upon evidentiary reasons, not on plea negotiations. She was pulling into her own cul-de-sac when this happened. When the accident occurred, she did back away and proceed to drive down — she was headed to her house.”
Allan told the court Howard would plead no contest to the improper left-hand turn and pay the bail schedule fine, to which — after a brief recess — the judge granted prosecutors’ motion to dismiss the misdemeanors and Howard subsequently paid a fine for the infraction.
Howard resigned from her judgeship on Aug. 9, roughly two weeks after the crash.
Following Tuesday’s hearing, Howard told KSL the collision had nothing to do with her resignation, and that it instead had to do with interests outside of law.
“I’m a professional dancer and I’m training for the (Dance) World Cup,” Howard said. “My partner and I are currently fifth in the world, and so we are training for the World Cup in September.”
Howard said she was “probably not the only lawyer or former judge that has committed an infraction.”
“I think we’re all likely to commit some type of road offense at some time,” she said.
Allan after the hearing said his client was “simply not guilty” of leaving the scene of an accident.
“I think it’s important that we try to make clear that this was not favoritism to a judge — this was evidentiary-based,” Allan said. “Obviously the allegations were a little more serious here, but in speaking to the prosecutor I think we proved, and the basis for the dismissal was we proved, in fact there was no violation that occurred.”
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