The state Commission on Judicial Conduct has settled its case with a judge caught drunk behind the wheel, ordering him to make public speeches about his misconduct but allowing him to remain on the bench and judge the cases of fellow drunk drivers while he's under deferred prosecution for his DUI.
Tumwater/Tenino Municipal Court Judge John V. Lyman, 66, was arrested last September after his GMC Yukon struck a parked car leaving the Tumwater Valley Golf Club restaurant, then hit-and-ran another vehicle at a stoplight. The occupants of that vehicle called 911 and tailed Lyman to his residence. Police said his breath alcohol test was .14, almost twice the legal limit.
Lyman was given deferred prosecution in January, admitting the offenses were the result of alcoholism. He remains under the court's supervision for five years, must not have any similar violations, and must complete a two-year alcohol-treatment program.
The state commission calls Lyman's arrest an "isolated incident," and cites a number of mitigating factors, including minor property damage, his first act of misconduct in 30 years on the bench, and the fact the misconduct occurred "outside the courtroom, in the judge's private life."
While the commission allowed that "It is troubling that Respondent [Lyman], who presides regularly over DUI and hit-and-run cases, has violated those very laws" and that his conduct "damaged the public's respect" for him and the judiciary, "both prosecution and defense counsel contacted by the Commission have relayed their confidence in Respondent's capacity to be even-handed and fair. There is no evidence that the judge flagrantly or intentionally violated the oath of office."
Not that he didn't violate it. But the commission handed down one of its lesser punishments, a reprimand. It requires Lyman to follow certain conditions as well as make at least five public appearances at which he must talk about his misconduct. He also must recuse himself when asked to do so by defendants in any DUI or hit-run cases. Full details here.
According to The Olympian, Lyman is under a four-year contract in Tumwater where he is paid $2,136 a month. In Tenino, Lyman earns a monthly salary of $750 as a part-time judge.
Tumwater City Administrator John Doan told the paper that "a deferred prosecution is not a conviction." Lyman has "been a good judge, and there's no reason to think that he won't be in the future."