It’s never a good idea to try to use a position of authority to pressure a cop into ignoring evidence of a crime. Judge Dennis Baptista of the Phillipsburg Municipal Court learned that the hard way, when reports of his attempt to persuade a cop to let him go after admitting to drunk driving prompted the State Supreme Court to issue an official censure. Judge Baptista is also barred from hearing DWI cases for a period of one year, according to the Supreme Court’s order.
The reprimands stem from an August 2014 traffic stop by State Trooper Josh Ladao in Clinton Township. Baptista had been driving erratically, and Ladao had him perform field sobriety tests, which he failed. Ladao arrested him. During the encounter, Baptista repeatedly suggested that an arrest would be detrimental to his career in public service and that charges would be harder for him than, “for an average guy.”
The Court was outraged, calling Baptista’s conduct an abuse of power that, “bespeaks a disregard for the rule of law” and said that Baptista “was attempting to obstruct justice.” According to Phillipsburg Town Council minutes, Baptista has been replaced on the municipal bench, meaning that he may have lost his job outright by sacrificing his reputation.
Consequences for a DWI in New Jersey can include professional penalties, which is why it’s so important to know your rights and work with an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney. Matthew Reisig has helped clients overcome DWI charges for almost 20 years. Call 732-625-9660 today for a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney.