Judge Catherine Steenland of the 39th District Court in Roseville refused to cooperate with police officers who responded to the scene of an incident and her vehicle was impounded, WWJ-AM (950) reported while citing unidentified authorities.
“A compliant was made, and as Judge Steenland is a sitting judge responsible for the city of Roseville, the matter was turned over to the Michigan State Police for investigation,” Roseville Police Chief James Berlin said in a news release Monday morning.
State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said the matter was turned over by Roseville police last week.
“They took the report and figured it was a judge in their jurisdiction, so they turned it over to us,” Shaw told The Macomb Daily Tuesday morning. “We are currently investigating it. We haven’t interviewed the judge.”
Shaw is not sure when an investigator will attempt to contact Steenland to arrange an interview.
Details about the traffic incident have not been released.
Steenland has been on medical leave since July 21, but took a few days off prior to that due to pain, Chief Judge Marco Santia told The Macomb Daily.
“I have not talked to her since I was notified about what happened,” Santia said.
He said Steenland is scheduled to return to work from medical leave on Oct. 17.
“Because of the matter being in the public eye, I’m probably going to have that discussion” sooner, Santia said.
The chief judge said the police chief officially notified him on Monday about the hit-and-run incident.
“But I had heard some rumors the week before,” said Santia, who added that he heard the incident occurred Sept. 27.
The 39th District Court’s jurisdiction also includes the city of Fraser.
Steenland wound up on the opposite side of the bench after she was arrested in June 2008 and charged with drunken driving for an incident near West Branch in Ogemaw County.
Steenland, 41 at the time, initially told a Michigan State Police trooper she had not been drinking and that she tried to turn the vehicle around in a driveway but backed up too far, plunging into a ditch. She admitted she had a couple of beers but insisted she was not drunk. According to a police report of that incident, Steenland failed four field sobriety tests, including at least five attempts to recite the alphabet.
A Michigan State Police laboratory report of Steenland’s blood revealed her blood-alcohol content was 0.23 percent –- almost triple Michigan’s legal standard of intoxication of 0.08 percent.
She later pleaded guilty to driving while impaired by alcohol. At her sentencing in July 2008, Steenland was ordered to serve 31 days in jail, with credit for one day behind bars. The sentencing judge suspended the balance of the jail term on the condition Steenland complete six months informal probation in which she was required to attend an alcohol highway safety program, a victim impact panel and pay $100 in prosecution costs. She also was ordered to pay fines and fees totaling $700.
The Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission later accused her of misconduct, stemming from her arrest. In lieu of a formal complaint, the judicial board and Steenland reached a settlement agreement that called for her censure and 90-day suspension from the district court bench without pay.
Steenland is the wife of Roseville City Clerk Richard Steenland.