Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Anchorage Superior Court Judge Patrick McKay Gets Five Days In Jail, 90-Day License Suspension For Second DUI In 21 Years
On October 27th, 2009, both the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2 report that Anchorage Superior Court Judge Patrick McKay has been sentenced by Juneau District Court Judge Keith Levy to five days in jail and three years probation after pleading no contest to DUI. In addition, his drivers license has been suspended for 90 days and his vehicle impounded for 30 days. He was also ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, but he'll be able to deduct from that the costs of treatment and an ignition device that is supposed to prevent a car from starting if a driver has been drinking.
McKay may also face sanctions on the job. The Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct will evaluate the case and decide whether discipline such as a public censure would be in order. The commission likely would emphasize rehabilitation.
There is an entry for him in the Alaska Court System database HERE, which shows that McKay violated AMC9:28:020(A) (also see AS 28.35.030). This provision prescribes the following penalties:
-- Not less than 72 consecutive hours and a fine of not less than $1,500.00 if the person has not been previously convicted.
-- Not less than 20 days and a fine of not less than $3,000.00 if the person has been previously convicted once.
Since McKay has a previous DUI, one would think he would have been assessed the second penalty listed above. However, he was sentenced as if it was a first DUI. Perhaps the length of time between the two was long enough to "restart the clock". Assistant municipal prosecutor Jody Davis confirms this; he said that while McKay has a previous drunken driving conviction, it was longer than 15 years ago, which means it doesn't count as a prior for sentencing purposes. Nevertheless, a number of people have still flagged and questioned this apparent contradiction in comments to the media websites listed above. A KTUU "unscientific" poll also indicates a near-even split in public opinion; in response to the question "Did Anchorage judge Patrick McKay get a fair sentence?", only 51 percent of the 383 respondents voted Yes. On October 28th, conservative pundit Dan Fagan advocated McKay's resignation, not only because judges and others with substantial discretionary powers over us should be held to a higher standard, but because Fagan also believes that Judge McKay has been getting away with DUI during the past 21 years because he blew a high .157 reading when he was stopped.
On August 27th, an Anchorage police officer stopped McKay at 9:30 P.M. for a traffic infraction observed while outbound on the Glenn Highway. Upon making contact, the officer found a water bottle filled with red wine on the passenger seat of McKay's car. After the judge blew a .157 on a breathalyzer test, the officer determined that McKay was under the influence and arrested him. The DUI was not aggravated by any injury, fatality, accident, or property damage. To preempt conflict of interest issues, the Alaska Court System then removed McKay from all criminal cases and limited him to civil cases until the DUI case was resolved.
McKay has been ordered to report to the Cordova Center, a halfway house, on the morning of November 12th to serve his three-day sentence.