published Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Lawyer Mike Richardson pleads guily to lesser charges

Attorney Mike Richardson
Attorney Mike Richardson
Photo by C. B. Schmelter /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Local attorney Mike Richardson on Wednesday pleaded guilty to speeding and misdemeanor reckless driving.

He went through a June trial on those charges plus DUI, but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict.

The prosecutor dropped the DUI charge, which Richardson’s attorney, Bill Speek, challenged throughout the trial.

“We’ve always maintained that [Richardson] was not intoxicated while operating the vehicle,” Speek said after the hearing. “We don’t think the state’s case would have gotten better on retrial.”

And, in court Wednesday, the prosecutor agreed.

Brooklyn Martin, an assistant district attorney with the 10th Judicial District, prosecuted the case.

Martin was brought in to avoid any conflict with local prosecutors who have worked against Richardson in past cases.

The prosecutor told Hamiton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern that the plea deal would include a suspended 30- day sentences and a $350 fine. She added that the hung jury in the trial contributed to dismissing the DUI charge.

During the trial prosecutors argued that on Nov. 30, 2011, a Signal Mountain police officer observed Richardson, 59, speeding and pulled him over. The officer said he smelled alcohol and asked Richardson to perform a field sobriety test, which he failed.

A blood-alcohol test revealed, hours later, that Richardson had a level of 0.12, higher than the legal limit of 0.08.

But Speek argued that at the time of the stop Richardson’s body had not metabolized the alcohol and it was only the delay of the blood test that allowed his intoxication to register as high as it did.

Jurors were stuck on that question, two female jurors after the trial said that they didn’t believe prosecutors had proven Richardson was intoxicated while driving.

Contact staff writer Todd South at 423-757-6347 or tsouth@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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