Caution: Judge on Board

Denver drunk-driving lawyer Brent M. Martin is on a collision course with justice.

Make that with a judge.
Attorney Martin, who regularly defends people accused of driving under the influence, is scheduled to appear in Denver County Court February 26 to face charges that he got liquored up last summer and smashed his gold 1996 Lexus into a car being driven by another man. Unfortunately for Martin, the other man was Denver County Court Judge John Marcucci.

Denver prosecutors have since charged Martin, who has a history of drunk-driving arrests, with misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence, failure to give aid, failure to report an accident, careless driving and possession of marijuana. Prosecutors have asked a judge for permission to tack on a charge of child abuse--apparently because the 34-year-old Martin had his five-year-old daughter in the car at the time.

Judge Marcucci, who along with his wife was banged up in the accident, says he's now just another citizen waiting for the wheels of justice to grind forward. "Like many people, I want this case to be over with," Marcucci says. "Most days I just wish this never would have happened."

According to police records, just before 11 p.m. on June 6, Martin was driving his luxury sedan south on University Boulevard near Harvard Avenue at about 60 miles per hour. He passed one car but then steered into the right lane and rear-ended a 1989 Nissan Maxima traveling at about the posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour. Marcucci was driving the Nissan; his wife, Judith, was in the passenger seat.

The accident crunched the front end of the Lexus and the back of the Nissan. Though the Marcuccis were bruised and sore, they weren't seriously injured. As a precautionary measure, an ambulance was called to take them to a hospital.

Not that Martin would have known that. According to prosecutors, Martin drove off without checking on anybody in the Nissan or even leaving his name, even though the front end of his Lexus was smashed and his deflated air bag was hanging out of the steering column.

Martin drove only a couple of blocks before stopping; prosecutors say the reason he pulled over is in dispute. When police caught up to Martin, he was arrested.

Marcucci says he has nothing but sympathy for Martin, although he says he doesn't plan to ask for leniency if Martin is convicted. Marcucci adds that his wife is angrier about the situation than he is. "The part about having the child with him really gripes my wife," Marcucci says.

After the accident, the ambulance drove the Marcuccis past Martin's car; the couple identified the Lexus as the vehicle that hit them. Although John Marcucci had seen Martin many times in his courtroom, he didn't recognize him that night. "When I saw him all the previous times, he was wearing a suit and tie and was all cleaned up," Marcucci says. He hasn't seen Martin at the courthouse since the accident; if Martin does appear before him as an attorney, Marcucci says, he'll recuse himself from the case.

According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Martin has an arrest record dating back to 1984 that includes three previous drunk-driving busts--two that year in Boulder and another in Denver in 1989. Martin was convicted in one of the Boulder cases; charges were dismissed in the other. In the Denver case, court records show that Martin went to a jury trial and was found not guilty of DUI but guilty of driving while his ability was impaired. CBI records indicate that Martin was also arrested in 1991 on a trespassing charge; he pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace in that case and paid a $50 fine. The next year he was charged with urinating in public after an incident on the 16th Street Mall; court records indicate that he pleaded guilty and received a deferred judgment.

Martin says rear-ending a judge this time around has given him cause for reflection. "After eight months, I've thought a lot about the irony," he says. Asked if he's come to any conclusions, Martin declines to talk about his case. "I really can't comment at all," he says.


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