Wisconsin judge not arrested after blowing over legal limit

January 10, 2019 02:17 PM

A Wisconsin judge, who had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol, was not arrested for drinking and driving late last year despite failing a field sobriety test and blowing well over the legal limit, according to police video and records obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Judge Eric Lundell can be heard on police dash and body cameras asking for special treatment during the traffic stop in Hudson, Wisconsin.

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"Where's the ol' police courtesy," he asked one of the officers. 

DIGITAL EXTRA: Watch footage of Wisconsin judge stopped by police

Lundell, who sat on the bench in St. Croix County for nearly three decades, had abruptly resigned his seat weeks before the traffic stop. He was still on the payroll at the time, but was not hearing cases.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS first reported Wednesday that Lundell's resignation, which was effective Jan. 1, came while he was under internal investigation for sexual harassment.

RELATED: Records show Wisconsin judge was under investigation for harassment when he abruptly resigned

Lundell did not respond to multiple requests for comment on his resignation or the traffic stop. 

Barry Hammarback, a longtime friend and attorney, said in a phone interview that Lundell "sought treatment" shortly after his resignation and "is doing quite well."

"I don't need this"

After cleaning out his chambers on Dec. 8, Lundell was pulled over shortly before 1 p.m. after he clipped a pole next to an ATM.

"Here's what's going on, Brad," Lundell said, addressing Sgt. Brad Kusmirek by first name.  

"My wife left me. I'm having a really bad time and I decided to retire... I don't need this."

Kusmirek responded, "Well, I know what you're saying your honor, but you have to understand the position we're in, correct?"

Minutes later, Lundell again asked for special treatment.

"Just give me one police courtesy one time in my whole career. If you want to ride with me home, fine. C'mon, Brad," he said, again addressing the sergeant by his first name.

Officer Luke Radke explained why the judge's request was problematic.

"I'm going to handle this like I would for anyone else," Radke said. "I understand you want some police courtesy right now, but if I get caught, or it gets released to the media that I didn't do my job because of who you are, my career is over."

The 71-year-old judge declined to perform at least one of the field sobriety tests, citing his age, but eventually agreed to stand on one leg – a test he failed.

At that point, Radke and Kusmirek agreed not to arrest Lundell.

"Based on your age, I don't feel comfortable arresting anyone based off a one-leg stand," Radke told the judge.

The Breathalyzer

However, the officers did ask the judge to take a breathalyzer with the understanding he would be allowed to drive home if he blew under a .04.

"Well, if you're not going to arrest me, then sure," Lundell said.

The judge then blew a .129. The officers allowed him to call for a ride home.

Mylan Masson, a now-retired police training expert who taught at Hennepin Technical College for more than 20 years, reviewed the videos obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

"Once you give him that breathalyzer and you realize how high he was, you just can't (let him go)," she said. "It looks like everybody knew each other and they're trying to give this guy a break." 

Michael Nieskes, the St. Croix County District Attorney, said he has asked another prosecuting agency to determine whether the officers gave Lundell special treatment. 

In an interview, Hudson Police Chief Geoff Willems defended his officers' handling of the traffic stop, and said the judge was not given the police courtesy he requested.

"In this case, the officer didn't feel he had the probable cause to arrest," Willems said. "He didn't do anything wrong. He still followed the procedure."

Asked whether he would have arrested the judge, Willems said "maybe".

"Anytime you have different officers, different experience levels, different training, you have a potential for a different outcome," he added.

Right before Lundell walked away from that traffic stop, he thanked Radke for his courtesy.

"No problem," Radke responded. "Have a good day."

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Ryan Raiche and Joe Augustine

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