When the jury began deliberations in a drunken-driving case, the judge went out and got a 12-pack of beer. Guilty verdict in, he drank a "cold one" with a lawyer and a couple of jurors, then drove home with a half-finished beer, state investigators say.
Lakewood Municipal Court Judge Ralph H. Baldwin said the charges brought by the state's judicial watchdog board are largely true and he will resign."When I saw it put down on paper, it looked awful," Baldwin told The News Tribune of Tacoma. "It was stupid."
He has served only three months in the $65,000-a-year post in Lakewood, just south of Tacoma.
The case that got him in trouble reached a verdict Feb. 20. Baldwin "made remarks such as, `stay for a cold one,' `I know this is uncommon, and kind of funny following a DUI case,' `I'll deny it if any of you repeat it,' and `I'm not responsible for any drinking or driving,' " investigators with the Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct alleged Monday.
Two members of the jury and the assistant city attorney took Baldwin's invitation and drank beer in the jury room, investigators said.
He called a court administrator a "wimp, or words to that effect," when she refused to drink, the investigators said. It was she who reported him to authorities.