Some lawyers have trouble relating to the law-breakers they represent. This one, unfortunately, doesn't.
Attorney John Wayne Higgins, who specializes in DWI law, wasn't scheduled to appear before Albuquerque Metropolitan Court Judge Julie Altwies last Wednesday. But that didn't stop him from hanging out in her courtroom for about 45 minutes before the judge called in a probation officer to check his blood alcohol content.
Higgins had business in the courthouse, but he went into the wrong courtroom, and no one cared what he had to say, least of all the judge.
The 69-year-old attorney's blood alcohol content measured at .11 percent, according to KQRE. The presumed level for intoxication in New Mexico is .08 percent. He was taken into custody and then to an area hospital.
In a Aug. 1 court hearing, Altweis said that Higgins had been found in direct contempt for disrupting the proceedings. Altweis called probation officers after Higgins apparently stumbled getting up, and told him that she was concerned for his safety.
Attorney Tom Clear, who witnessed the incident, told the Albuquerque Journal that Higgins had visited another room prior to disturbing Altweis' courtroom, but that he did not remember doing so. Higgins had been scheduled to appear at two hearings two floors below.
Clear told the newspaper that Higgins' behavior led him to believe something was medically wrong with the DWI attorney.
“He wasn’t making a lot of sense,” Clear said.
This isn't the first time Higgins' alcohol consumption has led to trouble with the law. In 2009, Higgins spent 48 hours in jail after being convicted of aggravated DWI. His intoxicated exchange with police officers was captured on police cameras.