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O.C. Jurist, Accused of DUI, Awaits a Venue

March 17, 2004|Claire Luna and Kimi Yoshino

The former presiding judge of Orange County Superior Court is expected to be told today where he will stand trial on charges of drunk driving and severely injuring a motorcyclist in a December collision.

Theodore E. Millard, the Orange County Superior Court's top judge in 1996 and 1997 and now an alternative dispute resolution judge, was on his way home after having dinner with friends when he allegedly hit motorcyclist William Payne, 52, in the city of Orange. Payne suffered several serious fractures and, said his lawyer, lost his construction job because of the accident.

Forensic tests determined that Millard was driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.11 at the time of the crash, said police Sgt. Dave Hill. The legal limit is 0.08.

If convicted on both charges, Millard would face up to six years in prison, including a three-year enhancement for causing great bodily injury, said state Deputy Atty. Gen. Scott Taylor, whose office is prosecuting.

The attorney general's office filed charges Friday against Millard, 64, of Orange. Later that afternoon, Superior Court officials recused the entire county bench from hearing the case. Many of the judges in Orange County work alongside Millard.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas has recused his office from handling the case against Millard, who is a friend. Millard is a former county prosecutor and served on the bench when Rackauckas was also a judge.

Taylor said Millard won't be arraigned until a judge from outside the county is named to hear the case.

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