Local News

Court Denies Durham Judge's Motion for New DWI Trial

Posted December 16, 1998

— A retired Wake County judge spent Thursday morning considering another judge's request to hold a new trial for a dentist accused of driving while intoxicated. Judge Craig Brown agreed in September to a negotiated plea in the DWI case. In November, he changed his mind.

Retired Wake County Judge Mike Payne denied Brown's motion Thursday to rehear the case.

At issue is whether Durham dentist Kenneth Podger's charge of drunk driving should have been reduced to reckless driving. Podger registered a blood alcohol content of nearly twice the legal limit at the time of his arrest.

The deal to reduce the charges was negotiated between Judge Brown and lawyers on both sides.

Bill Fleming witnessed the hallway deal, and felt it was an inappropriate arrangement, so he blew the whistle on the plea.

As information became available, Brown realized he was not fully briefed before agreeing to the negotiated plea. At that point, he motioned for a new trial.

Attorneys in Durham, and others in the court system, are watching this case very closely. Negotiated pleas are fairly common, and a lot of people are on the hot seat because of this one.

The state has also filed a motion to re-introduce the case. A special prosecutor filed a motion Thursday asking that the dentist be re-tried for DWI. That motion is still pending.


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