ROSEVILLE, Mich. – A Roseville judge who has been on the bench since 2002 is under investigation for a hit-and-run crash that happened Sept. 25.
Roseville police confirm a complaint was filed against Judge Catherine Steenland, who didn't return calls and wasn't in her 39th District courtroom Tuesday.
Steenland has been on medical leave since June 21. A fellow judge called it an embarrassment.
"We were about to go to the grocery store," said James Nielson, who filed the complaint against Steenland.
Nielson had just picked up his daughter from dance class when he said he was waiting in the turnaround in front of Applebee's for a red Dodge Charger that wasn't moving.
"She wasn't looking," Nielson said. "I was beeping my horn."
Nielson used the outside lane to go around her.
"Sure enough, she punched it, hit my car, pushed my car into the median and took off," Nielson said.
His Chrysler 300 was banged up, but he followed the car until the woman stopped.
"I got her license plate, called 911," Nielson said. "They were sending dispatch."
But as officers were arriving, the Charger took off again. This time, Nielson didn't give chase, but some good Samaritans did. They followed Steenland to her home.
"They said she looked intoxicated and was stumbling," Nielson said.
When police arrived, a district court employee said Steenland didn't come to the door.
Nobody answered the door Tuesday when Local 4 knocked, either.
In 2008, Steenland was arrested for drunken driving in Ogemaw County with a .23 blood-alcohol level. She was suspended 90 days from the bench without pay.
"She's supposed to be No. 1 on the scale of public safety, and she's out here hitting people?" Nielson said. "I could've been hurt. I had my daughter in the car."
Nielson has some minor injuries, but his daughter wasn't hurt. He wants the witnesses who followed Steenland to the home to come forward and be interviewed by police.
Michigan State Police have had the case for a week, but troopers said it's just beginning. They said it's all rumors until they interview people, which doesn't make Nielson feel any better about the judge's status possibly helping her in the case, he said.
You can watch Jason Colthorp's full story in the video posted above.