King County Assessor Scott Noble's facing a seemingly unwinnable criminal case (possibly followed by a prison term and a seemingly unwinnable civil case) over his drunk, wrong-way crash on I-5 in January. But he hadn't talked to the media until yesterday, when he gave an interview to King-5 News:
"I want to apologize, but I also want to bring up the fact that I'm an alcoholic, I'm a recovering alcoholic and have been for 20 years."
Despite that admission, Noble insists that he is fit to continue as King County assessor, an elected office he has held since 1992.
"My disease of alcoholism has not impaired the functioning of this office, nor has it impaired my performance as assessor," Noble said.
Except he's missed stretches of days, pretty much everyone's asked him to step down, and he'll be out for sure if he gets a felony conviction. Nevertheless, the office has seemingly functioned well, winning several awards.
When faced with similar scenarios, many public figures choose to do damage control by taking a break from their jobs and going into inpatient rehab. So why the Blago impression, and what would it mean for his case? We asked DUI defense attorney Dan Fiorito for his thoughts.
Rehab is pretty much a given, Fiorito says, but "voluntarily entering treatment could have some play with the judge...it could give him some sway with the prosecutor," though he adds it seemed unlikely to be significant.
As for resigning, "the only [advantage] I could see is taking him out of the public eye, making his case less juicy to a prosecutor." Staying in office might be the wiser legal strategy. "Maybe that's his bargaining chip--'if you give me a favorable deal, I'll step down'. If you can orchestrate a deal based on him voluntarily resigning, that might be helpful. Once he resigns, there's no leverage."