Tarrant County Judge Arrested On DWI Charge

By Scott Gordon
|  Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008  |  Updated 11:16 PM CDT
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Tarrant County Judge Arrested On DWI Charge

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Tarrant County Judge Arrested On DWI Charge

A Tarrant County judge is arrested in Alvarado on a charge of driving while intoxicated, police say.
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Tarrant County Judge Elizabeth Berry was arrested Saturday in Alvarado on a charge of a charge of driving while intoxicated, police said.

Police said Berry, 43, was clocked driving 92 mph on Interstate 35. The speed limit is 65 mph.

Police said the officer noticed several beer cans in Berry's sport utility vehicle and a second officer smelled alcohol on her breath.

"She was not very cooperative and didn't respond very well to their request" for a field sobriety test, Alvarado police Chief John Allen said.

The officers arrested Berry and took her to the Johnson County Law Enforcement Center in Cleburne, where she again refused to take a Breathalyzer test, Allen said.

"She was not mean; she was not combative," Allen said. "She just refused to take the tests."

A Johnson County judge signed a search warrant allowing police to take a sample of Berry's blood, a routine step in Johnson County when suspects refuse to take the Breathalyzer test, the police chief said. The results of that test won't be known for one to two weeks, Allen said.

An officer working radar northbound on I-35 stopped the judge's gray Volvo SUV at about 4 p.m. Saturday. The blood sample was taken at about 7 p.m., Allen said.

Berry was booked into the Johnson County jail Saturday evening and released at 10 p.m. after posting a $1,000 bond.

Berry was on the bench and not available for comment Tuesday, a court clerk said. She referred questions to Berry's attorney, prominent defense lawyer Mark Daniel, of Fort Worth.

Daniel did not immediately return a call for comment, but in a written statement he said, "Judge Berry is a very highly respected judge. We are presently doing our own investigation. It is my belief that this matter will likely be determined to be unfounded."

Allen declined to release video from a police dashboard camera and said it might not exist.

"We're not sure we can retrieve that," he said.

The cameras in Alvarado patrol cars have had technical problems, he said.

Police took the judge's driver's license because she refused to take the Breathalyzer, and Allen said Berry is not allowed to drive without the license.

"You expect people who are serving the public like they do to kind of curb the overindulgence," Lori Gardner, of Fort Worth, said.

Curtiss McAdams, a manager at the Flying Saucer in Fort Worth's Sundance Square, said it doesn't matter if someone is the governor or the president.

"If you drink before you drive, chances are you're going to get caught, and you'll get arrested," he said.

Berry, a former defense attorney, has handled several high-profile trials as judge.

Last summer, she presided over the intoxication manslaughter trial of Samuel Lee Hilburn.

Investigators said Berry did not have anything to do with a racially charged e-mail distributed in March.

In 2006, Fort Worth police Officer Dwayne Freeto was helping a stranded driver along I-35 when Hilburn's car crashed into his patrol car, igniting a fire and trapping Freeto inside. Freeto was killed in the wreck.

Berry sentenced Hilburn to 13 years in prison.

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