was arrested Tuesday, accused of driving to work at the Broward County courthouse while under the influence of drugs, striking a patrol car and repeatedly hitting the gate of the judges’ parking lot with her BMW, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
The judge was also accused of driving into a concrete median on Interstate 595 shortly before her arrest. Deputies said Rosenthal admitted to taking an Ambien pill Monday night and did not appear to have been drinking alcohol.
The arrest happened around 8:45 a.m., when Rosenthal’s BMW SUV struck a parked Sheriff’s Office vehicle in the parking lot, Keyla Concepcion, a spokeswoman for the agency said.
A request for Rosenthal’s booking mug shot was denied by the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Concepcion said Rosenthal, 56, made a request in writing to keep the photograph private because she is a sitting judge. She was booked into the main jail on one count of driving under the influence and one count of driving under the influence and causing property damage, according to jail records. She was released on a $1,500 bond late Tuesday.
Rosenthal was driving a BMW X3 SUV that was still stopped at the entrance to the judges’ parking lot between the courthouse and the Broward Main Jail late Tuesday morning. The driver’s side rearview mirror was dangling on the side of the door, but there was no debris, indicating the damage to the mirror occurred before she reached the parking lot.
According to an arrest report, Rosenthal struck the parked patrol car with the passenger side of her SUV, then continued toward the security gate of the judges’ parking lot. She struck the gate, put her vehicle in reverse, then struck the gate several more times before a deputy at the scene stopped her, according to the report.
Although she was described as unsteady on her feet and was speaking with a slurred voice, deputies said they did not smell alcohol.
Rosenthal volunteered that she had been involved in another crash before she reached the parking lot, according to the report. She told deputies a truck attempted to run her off the road on Interstate 595 and that she had captured the incident on a cellphone video.
The deputy reviewed the video and determined that there was no truck trying to run her off the road. “The video did display that [Rosenthal] was unable to maintain a single lane, drove in the breakdown lane and failed to avoid a collision with a concrete wall,” wrote the deputy, Michael Wiley.
Rosenthal submitted to a breath test but declined to give a blood or urine sample to test for the presence of drugs in her system. She failed a field sobriety test.
Michael Dye, a Fort Lauderdale
defense attorney who specializes in DUI cases, said Rosenthal may not be in much legal trouble if Ambien is all she took. “Under Florida law, Ambien is not listed as a controlled substance,” he said. “It doesn’t apply to Florida’s impaired driving statute.”
Rosenthal is the third Broward judge arrested for DUI in the past six months.
Broward Circuit Judge Cynthia Imperato, 57, has a pending DUI case resulting from a November 2013 incident in Boca Raton.
And on Friday, Broward County Judge Gisele Pollack was suspended from the bench pending an inquiry over allegations that she took the bench while intoxicated.
Pollack, 56, was arrested May 1 after a car crash in Plantation. Another driver was injured and Pollack was charged with four counts of DUI and failure to use due care. In that case, the State Attorney’s Office said it would ask the governor’s office to appoint a prosecutor from another county.
State Attorney’s Office spokesman Ron Ishoy said the same request will be made in Rosenthal’s case.
Broward Circuit Judge Martin Bidwill will be taking over Rosenthal’s caseload until further notice, said Meredith Bush, spokeswoman for the Office of Court Administration, which handles judicial assignments.
Rosenthal was appointed to the bench in July 2012 by Gov. Rick Scott and is up for re-election this year.
Her opponent, Jahra McLawrence, called her arrest “disappointing” and cautioned that she remains innocent in the eyes of the law until proven guilty.
“If true, it would be disturbing to know she was about to take the bench and decide on people’s fates while under the influence,” he said.
Rosenthal had been an Assistant United States Attorney since 1985, prosecuting international drug trafficking, money laundering, human smuggling, firearms trafficking, arson, tax fraud, bank fraud, bank robbery and other federal crimes.