Former judge could face jail time after 2nd DUI arrest

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A longtime municipal court judge was arrested for drunk driving after a Saturday night crash, and it was his second DUI arrest in three years.

The weekend arrest may mean judge John Lyman is in violation of the terms of release for his first DUI, which means he could face mandatory jail time.

Police say Lyman was heading eastbound on an Olympia road when he suddenly veered down an embankment and crashed.

Tom Beattie was the first person to arrive at the scene of the crash.

"I went down there to check on him to make sure nobody was hurt or anything, and as soon as he got out of the car I recognized who it was. It was John Lyman, the former judge of Tumwater," Beattie said.

For more than 30 years, Lyman had been handing out justice to drunk drivers. But now he's back on the other side of the bench, just like he was in 2010.

In that case, Lyman admitted to driving drunk. He clipped two cars in a restaurant parking lot and then hit another car on the way home. He was charged with DUI and hit and run.

"It could have been a lot worse. He could have hit a child. We had two tournaments going on. This parking lot was completely full, people walking everywhere," said Dan Merscher, who owns one of the cars Lyman hit.

Nobody was hurt and Lyman was given a deferred sentence and probation for five years.

He continued to serve as a judge in Tumwater and Tenino until four weeks ago, when he retired from the bench for health reasons, according to his attorney.

But since he's still on probation, Saturday's arrest could put Lyman in violation of the terms of his deferred sentence.

"If he's convicted, his license would be suspended and there's a mandatory minimum jail sentences on all DUIs, no matter who you are," said Lyman's attorney, Sax Rodgers.

As part of the deferred sentence, Lyman was also required to get two years of alcohol treatment.

"I'm very disappointed that this has happened, and I'm sure that Mr. Lyman is very upset and sad," Rodgers said.

Many area residents share that disappointment.

"He should have been setting a better example for everybody, especially being a judge. You would think so," Beattie said.

Lyman will be back in court next week.