Dashcam footage reveals Pennsylvania judge allegedly using position to influence officer
A judge in Pennsylvania is facing scrutiny after dashcam footage of him at a traffic stop was recently made public, revealing his alleged attempt to influence the police officer with his position.
Judge Dennis Reinaker of Lancaster County was pulled over in East Lampeter Township on April 26 for tailgating the officer, police Chief Stephen Zerbe told LNP.
In the video, Reinaker is seen getting out of his car as the officer approaches.
"What do you think you're doing pulling me over?" Reinaker asks. "For blowing my horn?"
The officer instructs an angry Reinaker to return to his vehicle, which is when the judge makes the questionable comment.
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"You better check the registration on this plate soon, Mister," he says, pointing to his license plate before getting back into the black SUV.
The officer goes back to his own vehicle for a moment where he's likely running the vehicle's plates. He then walks back to Reinaker's car and says, "Have a good day, Judge."
Reinaker told WGAL he self-reported the incident to the State Judicial Conduct Board shortly after it happened. He also told the news outlet he regretted his behavior and shouldn't have gotten out of his car.
"I know better than that. I wish I hadn't," he said.
He also said he never intended to use his influence to get out of the traffic stop.
"I neither expect nor deserve any special treatment, and made no such request on this occasion...If my intent was to tell him who I was, I could certainly have done so," Reinaker told LNP.
"However, I am not immune to an instance of mild frustration during a morning commute. In this case, it was not clear to me why I was pulled over. I obeyed the officer's directives and intended no disrespect," he added.
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It is against the Judicial Code of Conduct for a judge to use his office for personal benefit.
"A judge shall not abuse the prestige of judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others, or allow others to do so," Rule 1.3., "Avoiding Abuse of the Prestige of Judicial Office," states, according to LNP.
"It is improper for a judge to use or attempt to use his or her position to gain personal advantage or preferential treatment of any kind. For example, it would be improper for a judge to allude to his or her judicial status to gain favorable treatment in encounters with traffic officials," an additional comment under the Rule explains.
This incident isn't the first time a judge has been accused of using his position to evade the law. Last September, a municipal court judge in New Jersey was censured by the state's Supreme Court for attempting to influence an officer who pulled him over for suspected drunk driving, the Associated Press reports.