OLYMPIA - Tumwater Municipal Judge John V. Lyman will continue to serve after being granted deferred prosecution Tuesday for two gross misdemeanors - one charge of driving under the influence of intoxicants and one charge of hit-and-run.
The deferred prosecution means that both criminal charges against Lyman will be dismissed, provided he completes two years of intensive outpatient alcohol treatment, then an additional three years of probation, according to his attorney, James Dixon.
Lyman, who has a four-year contract, is paid $2,136 a month, Tumwater City Administrator John Doan said.
Lyman, 66, was arrested at his Olympia home in September after he was accused of crashing into a parked car in the Tumwater Valley Golf Club restaurant parking lot, then crashing into a vehicle stopped at a stoplight at Yelm Highway and Henderson Boulevard, according to the Washington State Patrol. No injuries were reported.
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Lyman was accused of driving away from the scenes of both crashes, according to the State Patrol.
“Our position is, deferred prosecution is not a conviction,” Doan said Tuesday. “He’s been a good judge, and there’s no reason to think that he won’t be in the future.”
After Lyman’s arrest, he registered blood-alcohol levels of 0.135 and 0.140 percent – well above the legal limit of 0.08 for drivers.
Doan said he expects Lyman will apply the law objectively in each DUI case he handles despite his recent experience. He said he doesn’t fear the public will lose confidence in the judiciary’s ability to fairly handle DUI cases.
Doan has said that under state law, a judge can be removed only if there is a conviction because of misconduct, or if a judge has a mental or physical disability that prevents him or her from serving.
Tuesday’s deferred prosecution was before visiting Sumner Municipal Court Judge Timothy Jenkins. The case was prosecuted by Susan Mason. Mason, a Mason County prosecutor when she was assigned the case, now works for the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Both former Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Holm and Thurston County’s district court judges declined to handle the prosecution of a sitting municipal court judge in Thurston County. It is standard for local prosecutors and judges to recuse themselves in such cases.
Lyman did not address the court Tuesday. Dixon said Lyman is “very embarrassed, very ashamed” about the decision-making that led to his Sept. 25 arrest. Lyman recognizes that he has an alcohol problem and understands that that is no excuse to drink and drive, Dixon said.
Dixon said outside court Tuesday that Lyman hoped to remain a municipal judge for Tumwater and for Tenino.
After Lyman’s arrest, he did not step down. He has continued to collect a paycheck, although he did not handle cases.
Mayor Ken Jones could not be reached for comment on whether Lyman will continue to serve as municipal judge in Tenino.
Doan said he expects Lyman can go back to the bench and hear cases in Tumwater Municipal Court “fairly soon.”
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465 firstname.lastname@example.org