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Drunk Driving with Children
May 29, 2013 permalink
A Michigan father sent his daughters home with his partner. Both daughters separately called their mother to complain that the driver, their stepmom, was drunk. The driver tested at double the legal limit when she arrived home and she has been charged with drunk driving.
CPS investigated the case and found no child abuse. How did this family get excused from the usual treatments of foster care and shotgun divorce? The father was Macomb County judge Richard Caretti.
Report finds no child neglect by Macomb County judge
A state investigation revealed no substantiated child neglect by a Macomb County judge who allowed his two minor daughters to ride in a car drive by his allegedly drunk girlfriend.
A Child Protective Services investigation of Judge Richard Caretti for his role in a driving incident in January resulted in a classification that shows “a preponderance of evidence of child abuse or neglect is not found,” according to sources who did not want to be identified.
Meanwhile, in the related criminal case, Caretti’s girlfriend, Brenda Conway, has appealed a district court judge’s refusal to toss out evidence that could dismiss the charge of drunken driving with minor children for which she was arrested after driving Caretti’s children home from a wedding reception and registering a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit.
The CPS report, completed within 30 days of the incident, was not made public, but its contents were learned by The Macomb Daily.
The report says, “This appears to be an isolated incident,” according to a source.
“The father has been pro-active in seeking out services and participating in services in the protection of his children from harm,” the report says.
Caretti’s statement in the report is consistent with his public comments in the days following the Jan. 13-14 incident. He told The Macomb Daily he did not realize Brenda Conway may have been drunk, did not notice erratic driving as claimed by one of his daughters, and was not drunk himself, saying he consumed “two or three drinks” over seven hours at the reception. He said Brenda Conway drove because it was her vehicle.
Caretti, days after the arrest, called his ex-wife “very vindictive” in her allegations and “very inaccurate” in her description of the events of that night.
Caretti and Lori Conway both declined to comment.
The couple divorced in 2011 and has shared joint legal custody of the children.
Caretti, who resides in Fraser, was appointed judge in 2002 and was elected in 2004 and 2010.
The incident began the night of Jan. 13 when Caretti’s 12-year-old daughter called her mother and Caretti’s ex-wife, Lori Conway (no blood relation to Brenda Conway), from a Macomb Township banquet hall and said she was afraid to drive with Brenda Conway because she was drunk. A short time later, Caretti’s other daughter, 15 years old, texted Lori Conway that Brenda Conway was driving erratically.
Lori Conway called police, who arrested Brenda Conway after she parked in front of Lori Conway’s home and registered .15 percent and .16 percent levels in preliminary Breathalyzer tests.
In April, Judge Debra Nance of 46th District Court in Southfield denied Conway’s motion to remove some or all of the evidence against her, and Conway, 50, of Troy, appealed May 3 to Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac.
In the appeal, Brenda Conway’s attorney argues that Police Officer Stephen Thompson violated her Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizure when he turned a “welfare check” into a criminal investigation.
“A welfare check is supposed to be totally divorced from a criminal investigation,” attorney Jeffrey Abood said.
In her opinion, Judge Nance supported the officer’s actions, saying, “The only way to properly conduct the ‘welfare check’ and determine whether the minors had been in jeopardy was to immediately interview the driver regarding the allegation of possible intoxication.”
Abood says in the appeal application that Nance wrongly “intermeddles” the welfare check and criminal probe.
Abood also argues that Thompson did not have probable cause to arrest Conway because two of the three sobriety tests he performed are not recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the one legitimate test was performed incorrectly.
In addition, he contends that Thompson failed to observe Conway for the required 15 minutes before performing a preliminary Breathalyzer test. He only observed her for 11 minutes, and didn’t watch her the entire time, he says.
Abood said he requested oral arguments.
A representative of the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office did not respond to an interview request.
Source: Macomb Daily