One of the area's most respected judges, known nationwide for creating a family drug court, was arrested for driving under the influence.
Judge Chuck McGee was taken into custody and booked at the Washoe County Jail last night on one count of DUI and one count of failing to maintain a lane.
KOLO spoke with his colleagues in the legal community and found this surprised those who knew the judge.
They say it was unexpected, but not unforgivable.
The judges and attorneys who know Judge McGee best say he is battling a disease of alcoholism, and they hope this was a wake up call.
Judge Chuck McGee is well known as a man who founded the family drug court in Washoe County. He's built a reputation of helping substance abusers get back on their feet.
But last night a different icture was taken of Judge McGee at the Washoe County Jail. Deputies say he failed a DUI test and spent four hours in jail before being released on his own recognizance.
The arrest comes just months after McGee checked into Betty Ford for a 60-day alcohol abuse treatment.
"I never saw it and frankly neither did many of my colleagues," says Chief Judge James Hardesty.
Hardesty says he won't pass judgment on McGee, noting he has only been arrested, not convicted. "Judge McGee does not expect special treatment and he'll get no more than anyone else," he says.
But DUI is a serious charge and the state Judicial Disciplinary Commission can levy penalties up to removing the judge from the bench.
Says atorney Ken McKenna: "Alcohol is an addictive druge and causes bad judgment in even the best and brightest people."
McKenna says driving while drunk is inexcusable, but he thinks it would be too extreme to lose McGee as a judge. "Alcohol destroys our society and when you have an individual susceptible to that we must treat it as a health issue not a criminal one," he says.
The arrest was McGee's first on record in Washoe County and those close to him say they hope it will be his last.
We tried to reach Judge McGee for comment but he did not return our calls.
If he is convicted though, it could be months before we know what the state judicial commission will do - if anything.
We also don't know if he's going to take time off but, as of now, he hasn't been restricted from ruling.
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Source: www.nhtsa.dot.gov (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Web site) contributed to this report.
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