Superior Court Judge E. Curtissa Cofield will spend 240 days off the bench, following an appeals procedure, determined the state Judicial Review Council Monday evening.
In October, Superior Court Judge E. Curtissa Cofield was arrested after hitting a state police cruiser in Glastonbury. At the police station, videotapes were rolling and caught her comments.
Cofield was arrested on a drunken driving charge in October told the state Judicial Review Council Monday that she did not recognize herself as the person on videotape making racial statements while arguing with state police.
The council held a public hearing Monday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to decide whether to discipline Cofield. The council could have referred her case to the State Supreme Court for termination as a judge.
During the 240 days, Cofield will collect no pay and the time will not count toward her pension. She will also not have health insurance and would likely elect COBRA, her attorney said.
As Cofield appeared before the council, she read from a lengthy statement and then answered questions from the members of the panel.
She maintained her composure through most of the testimony but struggled to fight back tears when she asked family members who were present to stand - including her daughter - and apologized directly to them.
In her statement, Cofield also apologized to the police officers who were the subject of her abuse, her fellow judges and the residents of Connecticut.
Cofield said that she took full responsibility for the actions that followed her arrest on the evening of Oct. 9 and could only explain her behavior as caused by alcohol with which, she says, she has “never had a problem,” until now.
Cofield testified that she had viewed the videotape of her arrest and she said “I didn't recognize myself.”
Prior to the judge's testimony, a supervising judge testified to Cofield's stellar record on the bench as judged by colleagues and lawyers who have appeared before her, even those whom she had ruled against.
Cofield asked the council to judge her not by the “snapshot” of that evening but by the content of her character.
Cofield said she is currently in counseling once a week and voluntarily participates in meetings referred to as “lawyers helping lawyers.”
Cofield was accepted in the state's alcohol education program. The drunken driving charge will be dismissed if she successfully completes the program.
The review council heard from seven other people on the judge's behalf. It was standing room only, as a large number of people offered Cofield their support.