Local News

Durham Judge Steps Down in Dentist's DWI Case

Posted November 29, 1998

— A hallway deal that ended with a DWI charge being dropped against a Durham dentist was back in court Monday.

The judge says he was misled by attorneys when he struck the deal in September, and now says he wants the case re-tried.

The judge wants the case re-tried, but says it'll have to be re-tried by someone else. Judge Craig Brown has removed himself from the case and has hired his own attorneys.

Police say Kenneth Podger's blood alcohol content registered nearly twice the legal limit after he spun out of control on the Durham Freeway.

In a meeting with attorneys in a back hallway, a witness says the judge agreed to reduce the charge against the dentist to reckless driving.

Podger has two previous driving under the influence charges, one in 1982 the other in 1992. The judge says he didn't know about the 1982 charge.

"Having not been made aware by either the state or the defense of that fact, the court filed this motion. The court does intend to recuse itself from this matter," said Brown.

District Attorney Jim Hardin isn't talking about the case. Neither is the dentist's new attorney Eddie Falcone.

But the judge, concerned that he'll be called as a witness, has hired his own team of attorneys.

"Basically what he's done now is he's said 'OK, this man's going to get a new trial, a fair trial, but it's not going to be in front of me, because I'm too close to it.' Given what's happened, that's the appropriate thing to do under this circumstance," said Brown's attorney, Brian Aus.

The stateAttorney General's officerefused to file any criminal charges against those involved with reducing the drunk driving charge.

But, the judge's conduct is under review by the Judicial Standards Commission. The attorneys involved are under review by theNorth Carolina Bar Association.

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