Durham County

Durham judge censured for ‘offensive and vulgar’ language during DWI stop

David Q. LaBarre, a former Durham County district and superior court judge, has been censured by the state Supreme Court for “offensive and denigrating behavior” toward police and emergency workers he encountered during his arrest in 2015 for driving while impaired.

The written reprimand was issued Friday in a batch of state Supreme Court rulings.

LaBarre was arrested on Dec. 16, 2015, in the parking lot of the Durham apartment complex where he lived at the time.

Durham police had received a call from someone concerned about a driver who appeared to be driving while impaired. The caller provided the license plate number, and the Durham officer who responded found the car in the parking lot with the engine running. The officer approached the driver’s side window and noticed the occupant slumped over the steering wheel, according to the censure.

Police reported that the judge used “offensive and vulgar expletives” toward the officer. LaBarre took a sobriety breath test, but refused to do a second one.

Several months after the stop, the judge entered a guilty plea that required him to undergo substance abuse treatment, complete 24 hours of community service, pay court fines and fees and be on unsupervised probation for a year. According to the Supreme Court reprimand, LaBarre has completed all those requirements.

LaBarre, 71, was on the bench in Durham, either as a District Court Judge or Superior Court Judge, from the late 1970s until 2002. After that, he served as an emergency judge who was called back to the bench on occasion.

On Friday afternoon, LaBarre declined to comment on the Supreme Court ruling, saying he had not yet seen it nor heard from his attorneys about it.

Anne Blythe: 919-836-4948, @AnneBlythe1