Local News

Former Durham judge censured for DWI, berating police

Posted May 5, 2017 3:36 p.m. EDT

Judge David LaBarre

— The state Supreme Court on Friday censured David LaBarre, a longtime Durham County judge, for "offensive and vulgar expletives" he spewed at a police officer during a drunken driving arrest in late 2015.

A Durham police officer responding to a 911 call about a suspected drunk driver on Hillandale Road on Dec. 16, 2015, found LaBarre passed out in his car in the parking lot of an apartment complex, according to findings of the state Judicial Standards Commission and the Supreme Court. The car's engine was still running, and the car was in drive, but LaBarre's foot was on the brake.

After the officer awakened LaBarre and conducted a preliminary breath-alcohol test, the judge became belligerent, refused to submit to a second test and "continued to use vulgar language and expletives towards the police officers at the scene" and later toward paramedics, the court ruling states.

LaBarre pleaded guilty in February 2016 to driving while impaired and has since completed a year on unsupervised probation, 24 hours of community service and substance abuse treatment, according to the court ruling.

He didn't challenge the findings of the Judicial Standards Commission or the court, instead acknowledging that he "engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute," and agreed to accept the censure.

LaBarre served as a District Court and Superior Court judge in Durham for more than two decades, from the late 1970s until 2002. He later served as an emergency judge for the state, but he resigned that commission and agreed not to seek a new appointment as part of his punishment, the court ruling states.