Rosemary Lehmberg civil trial begins

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by TINA SHIVELY and JADE MINGUS / KVUE News and Photojournalists KENNETH NULL and MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @JadeM_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on December 9, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 10 at 4:56 AM

AUSTIN -- Nearly eight months after officers caught her driving drunk, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg went to trial on Monday.

The civil trial will determine whether she can continue as the county's top prosecutor. Lehmberg is expected to testify Tuesday morning.

An out-of-county judge will hear the evidence concerning whether she is emotionally able to continue in office, and if she has an addiction. Prosecutors say it would better serve the public's interest if she is removed from office.

Lehmberg arrived to the civil trial early. Both sides met with the judge before testimony began.

The trial started with very compelling testimony -- both from witnesses and officers who all claim they did not know initially that Lehmberg was behind the wheel of the car swerving all over Highway 620.

The first witness says he called 911 when he saw Lehmberg on his way home from a high school baseball game the night of April 12. He says she was swerving across the road at speeds of up to 55 miles-per-hour and riding in the shoulder, so much so that he thought she might turn over.

The second witness, Mark Weston, was driving home from the office that night when Lehmberg's car cut him off, so he was compelled to call the police. He said he followed her after she pulled over on the side of the road and waited for the sheriff's deputy to arrive.

"I simply just saw someone who was driving erratically and thought it was important to stop them and get them off the road," said Weston.

The deputies on the scene also testified Monday morning, saying that Lehmberg was carefully removing documents from her purse. One deputy later came to find out a bottle of vodka was under it.

Lehmberg failed all of the officer's sobriety tests and refused a breathalyzer test. A blood test later showed her blood alcohol content (BAC) level was almost three times the legal limit.

A deputy also testified Lehmberg was grabbing at his flashlight and asking, "What's wrong with you guys?" as he was interacting with her.

Another deputy testified that while at the jail, Lehmberg was so violent she had to restrain her. She also says Lehmberg said, "You should be in handcuffs, not me."

Video from the night of her arrest shows her spitting and kicking staff at the jail and asking for them to call Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton and Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo to come to her aid.

Lehmberg did go to rehab following the April event, which was caught on tape.

During the last eight months, many have called for her resignation. Some have even held protests. Others say she deserves a second chance.

Lehmberg has ignored calls for her resignation but has admitted she made a mistake that night.

According to KVUE's content partners at the Austin American-Statesman, Lehmberg could know by the end of the week whether or not her job is safe.

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