Metro Detroit judge accused of hit and run

- She's a court judge who sentences criminals in hit and run cases - but now Roseville and Frasier district Judge Catherine Steenland may be involved in a hit-and-run of her own.

According to police, Steenland is being investigated for sideswiping a car on Gratiot, just north of McKinnon in Roseville on Monday Sept. 25.

"She wasn't paying attention she was doing something with the radio," said James Nielson who said he was the accident victim. "She floored it, smacked the front of my car, I hopped onto the median. She looked back at me and then floored it to take off."

But Nielson said he got her license plate and a good look at the driver.

"That's her," he said, looking at a photo.

Nielson says there were witnesses at the Applebee's who heard the crash, saw that the driver take off and followed her to her house.

"She hit me while I had my daughter in the car and didn't stop to see if anyone was OK," Nielson said.

Authorities say that the judge refuse to talk to police, her car was impounded, and Roseville Police turned this matter over to the Michigan State Police for further investigation.

"I believe she was drunk," he said. "Just the way she was driving, it was erratic. If you hit someone and you hear it, you are going to stop."

Judge Steenland pleaded guilty to impaired driving in West Branch in 2008.  Her blood alcohol level was .23, nearly three times the legal limit. She was given probation but received a 90-day suspension, without pay, by the Judicial Tenure Commission.

Nielson said he was injured.

"I chipped a tooth, my front tooth is actually cracked," he said. "And I have to get an MRI on my shoulder next week."

Steenland has been off the bench since July 21 due to some medical issues. She is scheduled to return on Oct. 17. 

Leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor that could land the judge in jail for up to 90 days, the loss of her driver’s license, and another suspension ultimately by the Supreme Court.

"It's sad," Nielson said. "It's pathetic is what it really is."

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