NOVEMBER 25, 2008
A Connecticut judge charged with drunken driving was taped in an epithet-laced rage during her arrest and authorities have refused a newspaper’s public records request of the official police video recording.
The Hartford judge, E. Curtissa Cofield, was arrested last month when her fancy imported sports car struck the patrol car of a Connecticut State Trooper parked on the right shoulder of a highway. The state cruiser was protecting a construction zone and the intoxicated judge slammed her car into it.
During the arrest, Judge Cofield, who is black, used demeaning racial epithets towards the arresting officer and warned that she was a state judge. She is also captured on the police video calling a state police sergeant named Dwight Washington “Negro Washington.”
Although authorities have refused the newspaper’s Freedom of Information Act request for the tape, a columnist who is a lawyer and former state legislator, evidently saw it and wrote about it in a story published a few days ago. The paper is appealing the record denial to the state Freedom of Information Commission.
Judge Cofield had a court appearance in Manchester this week where she applied for a pretrial alcohol education program for first-time offenders. The presiding judge, who has received dozens of support letters on Cofield’s behalf, decided to delay a decision until December 8. Legal experts speculate he wants to see the now famous tape of the irate jurist.
A former prosecutor, Judge Cofield was appointed to the bench in 1991 and was assigned to Superior Court in Manchester for four years before moving to Hartford’s community court. Ironically, she heard cases involving drunken driving charges.
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