St. Paul: Dakota County judge arrested on suspicion of DWI
St. Paul police arrested Dakota County District Judge Michael Vann Sovis on Monday, Dec. 24, on suspicion of DWI, after he allegedly drove into parked cars in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood.
Police were called about 7:50 p.m. to the 1200 block of St. Clair Avenue, where they discovered a sport-utility vehicle had struck three parked cars, said Howie Padilla, St. Paul police spokesman.
The SUV was on a snow bank nearby, and the driver, identified as Sovis, showed signs of impairment, Padilla said.
“We gathered information from the driver and the passenger that the driver had been drinking,” Padilla said. Neither Sovis nor the woman in the SUV needed medical attention, he said.
Police gave Sovis, 63, of Apple Valley, field sobriety checks and took him into custody, Padilla said. Sovis’ blood-alcohol concentration and where he was coming from are part of the investigation, Padilla said.
Sovis was booked into the Ramsey County jail on suspicion of third-degree driving while impaired, a gross misdemeanor. He could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
He was released from jail Tuesday morning after posting $12,000 bond, according to jail records.
The St. Paul city attorney’s office is reviewing the case for possible charges.
Sovis, a 1975 graduate of Hamline University School of Law, has been on the bench since 1988. He’s been elected four times since then, most recently in 2008. His current term expires in 2015.
In 1995, Sovis
ruled that if a drunken driver loses his driver’s license under the state’s implied consent law, he couldn’t also be punished by a criminal prosecution. He made the ruling in dismissing charges against a Burnsville man. The defendant’s attorney said if the ruling stood, “every single DWI in the state of Minnesota would have to be dismissed.”
The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that taking away the license of a drunken driver and pressing charges was not double jeopardy.
In 2008, the state Board on Judicial Standards reprimanded Sovis for breaking rules on impartiality. Sovis personally ordered the arrest of a man involved in a dispute with a family friend and had the man jailed without following proper procedure, the board found.
The board also disciplined Sovis on two prior occasions for improperly dismissing citations.
Sovis does not have a criminal record, according to Minnesota court records.
Emily Gurnon contributed to this report. Mara H. Gottfried can be reached at 651-228-5262 or email@example.com. Follow her at twitter.com/MaraGottfried. Marino Eccher can be reached at 651-228-5421 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him attwitter.com/marinoeccher.