Travis County DA sentenced to 45 days for DWI

April 19, 2013 10:23:36 AM PDT
Sheriff's deputies took Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg into custody on Friday after a judge sentenced her to 45 days in jail for driving while intoxicated.

After Lehmberg entered a guilty plea, deputies placed her in handcuffs and took her from the courtroom. Lehmberg, 63, was arrested last weekend and later issued a formal apology and said she would plead guilty to whatever charge the county prosecutor thought appropriate.

The prosecutor with 38 years of experience did not ask for a plea deal or any special treatment. She was also fined $4,000 and her driver's license was suspended for 180 days. Based on sentencing standards, it was not immediately clear how long she would actually spend in jail.

She did not make any comment at the hearing, but in a letter to the prosecutor and court on Sunday she wrote: "I am guilty of DWI and of acting unreasonably and the fault is all my own. I am deeply sorry for my actions."

Lehmberg has said she hoped to put the matter behind her and continue in office until her planned retirement in 2016, but there have been calls for her resignation. The Austin American-Statesman released an editorial on Friday urging her to step down and one resident has petitioned for her removal.

"She knew better and did it anyway. As a result, Lehmberg's ability to perform her official duties is profoundly impeded," the editorial said. "The tragedy is that she ended a good career, but end it must."

Texas law provides for the removal of a district attorney for drunkenness. Austin attorney Kerry O'Brien filed a suit on Tuesday seeking a court order to suspend her pending a hearing.

"Lehmberg violated the public trust, demeaned her office and created a substantial risk of injury to others," O'Brien's suit says.

Politics do complicate the case; Travis County is heavily Democratic and if Lehmberg steps down or is removed, Republican Gov. Rick Perry would appoint a replacement pending the next election.
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