ROSEVILLE, Mich. – A Roseville judge who was charged with two misdemeanors in connection with a hit-and-run crash can avoid jail time as long as she doesn't violate her probation.
Judge Catherine Steenland, 51, was sentenced Friday to a total of 455 days' probation for a Sept. 25 crash in Roseville.
Driver says Steenland fled after crash
James Nielson, 31, of Roseville, accused Steenland of crashing into his Chrysler 300 after he picked up his daughter from dance class.
Nielson told Local 4 last October that he was waiting behind Steenland, whose red Dodge Charger wasn't moving in a turnaround lane. When he tried to go around her, he said she crashed into him and drove away.
"She wasn't looking," Nielson said. "I was beeping my horn. Sure enough, she punched it (when he tried to go around), hit my car, pushed my car into the median and took off."
Nielson got her license plate number and called 911. Good Samaritans followed Steenland to her home.
"They said she looked intoxicated and was stumbling," Nielson said.
In 2008, Steenland was arrested in Ogemaw County for drunken driving, with a 0.23 blood alcohol level. She was suspended from the bench for 90 days without pay.
On Aug. 27, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged Steenland with two misdemeanors.
She was charged with failure to stop at the scene of a personal injury accident and failure to report an accident.
"The alleged actions of this judge are disturbing," Worthy said. "A judge is the ultimate example of one who should be held to the highest standards of the law."
Steenland was arraigned in 72nd District Court in Marine City.
Judge sentenced to probation
For the failure to stop at the scene of a personal injury accident charge, Steenland was sentenced to 365 days in the St. Clair County Jail, which will be suspended upon completion of 12 months of probation.
For the failure to report an accident charge, Steenland was sentenced to 90 days suspended upon completion of 90 days of probation.
The sentences mean Steenland won't have to serve any jail time unless she violates her probation.
Steenland also has to attend substance abuse counseling, pay fines of $1,000 and complete 100 hours of community service. She can't have any drugs or alcohol.