A Michigan judge who usually sentences criminals for hit-and-run crimes could possibly be ending up in front of another judge for the very same reason. The Detroit Free Press reported that Roseville District Court Judge Catherine Steenland of the 39th District Court is being investigated for fleeing the scene of an accident.
On the night of September 25, 2017, Judge Steenland allegedly sideswiped another vehicle while she was making a turn. She then left the scene and returned to her home. The car collision allegedly took place on Gratiot between 13 Mile and Masonic. The driver of the other vehicle supposedly followed Judge Steenland to her home and watched her exit her vehicle. The two never spoke to each other. Anonymous sources tell CBS Detroit that police officers later reported to Judge Steenland’s home, and she refused to cooperate with them. The sources also say that Judge Steenland’s vehicle has since been impounded.
Roseville Police Chief James Berline said in a statement that “a complaint was made, and as Judge Steenland is a sitting judge responsible for the City of Roseville, the matter was turned over to the Michigan State Police for investigation. Any comment regarding this matter will have to come from MSP.”
This is not the first legal trouble Judge Steenland has faced. In June of 2008, she pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while visibly impaired in Ogemaw County. She was charged in the 82nd District Court in West Branch in northern Michigan. She was suspended without pay for 90 days.
In Michigan, the driver of a vehicle who knows or who has reason to believe that he has been involved in an accident shall immediately stop his or her vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall remain there...or immediately report the accident to the nearest or most convenient police agency or officer. In other words, if there’s a chance you were in an accident, you need to stay on the scene until you are able to talk to the police. There may be exceptions in cases where it would be dangerous for the driver to remain on scene. Fleeing the scene of an accident is generally considered a misdemeanor crime, that carries with it a 90 day prison sentence and/or a $100 fine.
Leaving the scene of an automobile accident isn’t OK for anyone to do. It may seem like an easy way out, but it can just create more problems down the line. What could be a minor car collision that could easily be handled by an exchange of insurance information could become a much bigger legal matter if you decide to flee. By staying at the scene of a car accident and cooperating with first responders and investigators, you may be able to avoid having to call an accident attorney or criminal lawyer because you made a bad decision in the moment.
Hit-and-run accidents can be a legal headache for the person who fled the scene, but can also lead to prolonged pain and suffering for the other victims of the car crash. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a hit-and-run accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.