Newburgh Justice Acquitted of DWI

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Newburgh justice acquitted of DWI
By Michael Randall
The Times Herald-Record

Newburgh - Newburgh Town Justice Jeffrey Werner was acquitted last night of driving while intoxicated following a three-day trial in City Court.

Warwick Village Justice Richard Farina delivered the verdict in the non-jury trial shortly after 11 p.m.

Farina - who was assigned to the case after both Newburgh city judges asked to be excused because of conflicts of interest - did find Werner guilty of refusing to submit to an alcohol breath screening. Werner was fined $130 and given until Friday to pay the fine.
Werner was happy after the verdict but deferred comment to his lawyers.

"The judge obviously listened carefully to the evidence and applied the applicable standards of law," said lawyer John Ingrassia, who defended Werner along with William Larkin III. "We're pleased the process worked."

Werner was charged with driving while intoxicated after leaving The Torches, a waterfront restaurant, on May 25, 2001. Police pulled his car over not far from the restaurant after clocking it at 49 mph in a 30 mph zone. A speeding charge was dismissed during the trial.
Werner refused to either perform field sobriety tests, such as a one-leg stand or a walk and turn test, or a breath test when he was stopped. During almost three hours on the stand in his own defense yesterday, Werner repeated his previous assertion he was not intoxicated or impaired at the time, and police had no cause to stop him.

Werner also disputed several points in police reports and police testimony. He said it was the field sobriety tests - not the breath test, as alleged by police - that he called inaccurate. He said the test couldn't be done accurately there because the road sloped down, the sidewalk was cracked and uneven, the pavement was wet and there was a sunken manhole in the area. Farina said in announcing his decision he didn't buy Werner's argument.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Brian Berkowitz suggested Werner tried to use his status as a judge to avoid arrest. Noting that when Werner was asked for his driver's license and registration, he first handed the arresting officer his license and court identification card, Berkowitz said, "You didn't think you were going to need your registration once they saw your court ID, did you?"

But Werner said he waited to reach for the registration until he was sure the police officer knew what he was reaching for. He also said he was taught years ago to provide police with a second form of photo identification if possible.

* Reprinted with permission of The Times Herald-Record

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.