Wake County Judge Pleads Guilty
Posted May 21, 1996
RALEIGH — May 22, 1996 - 9:29 a.m. EDT
Wake County Superior Court Judge Henry Barnette has pleaded guilty to a charge of failure to report an accident, but some city council members are not ready to drop the issue.
The charge stemmed from a single-vehicle accident on the night of March 29, 1996, in which Barnette allegedly crashed his Mercedes-Benz into a brick wall at the entrance to his neighborhood on Duraleigh Road.
Police said they smelled alcohol when they went to his home after the wreck, but never charged the judge with drunken driving. He refused to take a sobriety test and wouldn't answer some questions at the wreck scene.
On Wednesday, the tow truck driver summoned by Barnette after the accident said he did not smell any alcohol in the car or on the judge. But James Turner told WRAL-TV5'sMark Robertsthat he did see an empty bottle in the floor of the car. Turner said it could have been a beer or wine cooler bottle.
On Tuesday, after Barnette's guilty plea, another judge ordered Barnette to pay a $60 fine and another $60 in court costs.
Councilman Kieran Shanahan says the judge received what Shanahan called "special treatment" and wants to see further investigation.
Barnette didn't have much to say, referring reporters to the statement released by his attorney.
In the statement to which he refers, Barnette admits he had been drinking earlier in the day, but did not believe himself to be intoxicated. It goes on to say he discussed the accident with police and exercised his right not to answer some of their questions. District Attorney Colon Willoughby tried the case Tuesday for the D.A.'s office