- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday suspended a judge for 30 days without pay after she showed up for court so drunk in May 2012 she couldn’t take the bench.

District Associate Judge Emily Susan Dean, of Ft. Madison, has acknowledged her struggle with alcoholism and sought treatment in 2011 and 2012, but she left the programs before completion, the court opinion filed Friday said.

Dean told the court in a disciplinary hearing that the May 9, 2012, event at the Henry County Courthouse in Mount Pleasant was hitting bottom for her. The next day the Iowa Commission on Judicial Qualifications suspended her from her duties pending an investigation.

An attorney general’s office investigation found she had been drinking as she was driven to work from Fort Madison to Mount Pleasant that day by her court reporter. Upon arrival at the courthouse the court reporter recognized the judge couldn’t physically take the bench and convinced her to leave the courthouse. She was driven back to Fort Madison and hospitalized for three days for treatment of severe alcohol intoxication.

Since that incident she has made progress in a 12-step program set up by the Iowa Lawyers Assistance Program, according to court documents. She has regularly attended a sobriety support group and signed a contract agreeing to a two-year monitoring program. She took five months off from work to seek rehabilitation before she was reinstated by the commission on Nov. 2, 2012.

On March 27 of this year, the commission sought disciplinary action to restore public confidence in the judicial system and deter other judges from engaging in similar conduct, the ruling said. The commission recommended suspension for three months without pay.

The court’s decision to suspend her for 30 days takes into consideration that she cooperated with the investigation, sought rehabilitation and continues working on sobriety.

“On balance, we think the conduct demonstrated by the record in this case requires a suspension. The public cannot accept, the bar cannot condone, and we cannot tolerate judges showing up for work intoxicated,” the court said.

Her suspension begins Sept. 20.

Dean’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Dean was appointed to the bench in 2006 in the judicial district covering 14 counties in the southeastern corner of Iowa.

She will be on the ballot this November, facing a retention vote. Iowa judges come up for retention every eight years.

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