Albany, NY – A New York judge will be allowed to remain on the bench despite having caused a drunken crash and threatening the state police officers who responded to arrested him.
On March 19, 2018, after a hard night of drinking in Orlando, Florida, Shandaken Town Justice Michael Miranda headed to the airport to fly back home to Albany, the New York Post reported.
The 72-year-old judge downed at least eight vodka drinks between the time he arrived at the airport for his 11 a.m. flight and the moment his plane touched down in New York, and consumed just one small package of peanuts during the same period.
After landing in Albany, Miranda jumped into his personal 2013 Subaru Outback, which bears State Magistrates Association (SMA) license plates, and embarked on the 90-minute, 70-mile journey to Shandaken, the Times Herald-Record reported.
Along the way, the judge pulled off at a rest area and downed some more vodka before resuming his trip home.
Miranda arrived in Shandaken at approximately 5:30 p.m., and promptly slammed his Subaru into two benches and a couple of stop signs, the New York Post reported.
He caused nearly $7,000 in damage to his vehicle, but didn’t injure himself or anyone else.
Local police responded to the scene and noted that the judge was exhibiting signs of intoxication, so they requested that New York State Police (NYSP) handle the investigation due to the judge’s position with the city, the Times Herald-Record reported.
Miranda initially claimed that he had “two beers” several hours before the crash, the Daily Freeman reported.
Miranda showed impairment on field sobriety tests, and his blood-alcohol content was three times the legal limit, according to the New York Post.
During the stop, the judge demanded to know whether or not the troopers realized who he was, the Times Herald-Record reported.
He also threatened to never handle arraignments for the NYSP again.
Miranda was initially arrested on two counts of drunken driving, failure to stop at a stop sign, refusal to take a breath test, and speeding, the Daily Freeman reported.
He later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving while ability impaired by alcohol in August of 2018, according to the Times Herald-Record.
A $560 fine was levied against him, and his insurance company paid out the $1,138 in restitution owed to the state for the damaged stop signs.
During his hearing before the Commission on Judicial Conduct on Wednesday, Miranda testified that he has struggled with alcohol abuse for over 10 years.
He said he entered a two-week inpatient treatment program after his arrest, and told the commission that he is still meeting with a counselor twice per month.
The commission further noted that Miranda is a Vietnam veteran who spent 14 years on the bench and nearly 20 years as an Ulster County prosecutor without any other infractions, the Times Herald-Record reported.
“Given the numerous aggravating factors present, this case comes very close to removal,” the commission said.
“By invoking his judicial office to evade the consequences, and threatening not to conduct arraignments for the State Police, Judge Miranda came close to being removed, which would likely have been the result if he had followed through on his threat,” the commission added, according to the New York Post.
Under the commission’s slap-on-the-wrist penalty, Miranda will remain on the bench.
He agreed to the censure and said he will not request a Court of Appeals review, the Daily Freeman reported.
According to Miranda’s attorney, Alfred Mainetti, the judge has no intention of resigning, but that he would prefer not to oversee cases involving intoxicated drivers.
The issue will be handled “on a case-by-case basis,” Mainetti said.
Miranda declined to comment on the case, according to the New York Post.
His current term expires on Dec. 31, 2021, the Daily Freeman reported.