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Justice Donna M. Mills has been censured by the New York Commission on Judicial Conduct for driving after drinking too much and complaining that she had been arrested because she is black. A Bronx jury last year acquitted Mills of drunken driving charges in connection with the 2002 incident in which her 1979 Rolls Royce became wedged between two cars as she was attempting to leave a Loehmann’s parking lot. The release of the commission’s decision Thursday came at an awkward time for Mills, who was elected in the Bronx but handles civil cases in Manhattan Supreme Court. Just three days after the commission decided the judge’s case on Aug. 17, a friend of hers was accused of tussling with a mother and her 4-year-old son as the friend attempted to force his way into their apartment. The friend, who was charged with assault and attempted burglary, was driving a car with “JSC” — Justice of the Supreme Court — license plates that were traced to Mills. There is no indication that the judge has been involved in any wrongdoing in connection with the incident, said Steven Reed, a spokesman for the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. The conduct commission unanimously accepted a stipulation worked out between Mills and its staff in which she acknowledged that it was “inappropriate” to have driven on the evening of July 22, 2002, after having consumed as much alcohol as she had. Mills also admitted that her remarks to the arresting officers — four of the six were white — that they were taking her into custody because she is black were “offensive to the police officers and inconsistent with her lifelong respect for police officers.” Both sides agreed that the appropriate sanction was censure. The commission has previously sanctioned “numerous judges” who have been convicted of alcohol-related driving infractions, the decision stated. “In the wake of increased recognition of the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol and the toll it exacts on society,” the commission wrote, “alcohol related driving misbehavior must be regarded with particular severity — even, as here, where the respondent was not convicted of any offense.” According to the commission’s administrator, Robert H. Tembeckjian, Mills is the first judge to be sanctioned for alcohol-related behavior despite having been acquitted of criminal charges. However, he noted that Mills is also the first judge to admit to the commission that she had had too much to drink. In two non-alcohol-related cases, Tembeckjian said, the commission removed judges from the bench after they had been acquitted. The decision recited Mills’ behavior on the evening of the incident in some detail. She and a friend had dinner and drinks and then went to a tavern for more drinks before the incident in the parking lot occurred at about 11 p.m. She refused to take a Breathalyzer test. Also, according to the determination, police officers had testified at the criminal trial that Mills had a strong odor of alcohol and was unsteady on her feet and incoherent. Mills’ conduct, the commission found, failed “to promote public confidence in the judiciary” and detracted from the dignity of judicial office in violation of the Rules of Judicial Conduct. The commission said that, after her arrest, Mills entered and completed an alcohol treatment plan to restore her driver’s license. The judge served on the Civil Court from 1993 through 1998, and was elected to the Supreme Court in 1998. Mills was represented by Paul T. Gentile of Gentile & Dicker. Alan W. Friedberg, the commission’s chief attorney and Vickie Ma, a staff attorney, negotiated the stipulation for the commission.

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