Probe Sought Against Judge Who Allegedly Used Racial Epithet

Christine Dempsey, Hartford Courant, November 25, 2008

The co-chairman of the state legislature’s judiciary committee wants a full review of allegations that a judge charged with drunken driving last month angrily hurled epithets at police officers during her arrest, called a black state police sergeant nigger and told officers she was a state judge.

Judge E. Curtissa R. Cofield, 59, who is black, also referred to state police Sgt. Dwight Washington as “Negro Washington” during her Oct. 9 arrest—which was captured by police video recorders—Courant columnist Kevin Rennie, a lawyer and former state legislator, wrote in his column in Sunday’s Courant.

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Nothing was said of Cofield’s alleged conduct during her appearance Monday in Superior Court in Manchester, where Judge William Bright Jr. delayed a decision on her application to a pretrial alcohol-education program until Dec. 8. Those who are admitted to and successfully complete the program, open only to first-time offenders, will have their record of arrest wiped clean.

Bright said he wanted to give the prosecutor a chance to talk to Trooper Michael Kowal, whose patrol car Cofield reportedly struck as she drove her BMW east on Route 2 about 10:50 p.m. on Oct. 9. Bright said he received an objection to Cofield’s application from Kowal.

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Lawlor said he is exploring whether his committee, which oversees the judicial branch and has the power to impeach a judge, will be able to view the videotape.

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According to a state police incident report, Cofield drove her 2003 BMW X5 into Kowal’s state cruiser, which was parked in the right shoulder protecting a construction zone. Cofield was taken to the Glastonbury police station for processing and was charged with driving under the influence and failure to drive in the proper lane. Her comments were captured on a video and audio monitoring system at the Glastonbury police station.

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cofield

Judge E. Curtissa R. Cofield

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