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Parking lot dispute led to drunk driving arrest of Travis County judge, affidavit says

Judge John Lipscombe was booked into the Travis County Jail around 9 a.m. on Saturday after his arrest near The Domain.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin police arrested and charged a Travis County judge who presides over drunken driving cases with that crime. Now, we're learning more about what happened before the judge was arrested.

Judge John Lipscombe was booked into the Travis County Jail around 9 a.m. on Saturday, according to jail records. 

Before then, at around 12:30 a.m. that morning, an officer was called to the parking lot of Homewood Suites on Stonelake Boulevard in North Austin. According to an affidavit obtained by KVUE, the man who called 911 told responding officers that Lipscombe was attempting to back into a parking space when he almost hit his car. 

Credit: Austin Police Department

The two then got into an argument before Lipscombe drove around the parking lot and parked in a handicap space in front of the hotel.

When officers found the man identified as the judge sitting inside the lobby, officers said he "appeared slow to answer questions and was overall disoriented." Officers also noted he slurred his speech and had a faint odor of alcohol.

The affidavit states Lipscombe told officers he consumed “a couple of drinks at his house but not even to get messy.” Lipscombe could not initially recall to officers when he started or stopped drinking the alcoholic beverages he had that day, but later said he was at home from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Lipscombe reportedly told police he arrived back to the Homewood Suites on Stonelake Boulevard at “dusk” on Friday, May 6, but the initial time of the call for service was after midnight on Saturday, May 7. 

The affidavit goes on to say that Lipscombe was argumentative. When he was asked to count backwards from 76 to 56, Lipscombe continued to count to 51 and could not remember the instructions he was given by officers regarding the countdown. 

The affidavit states that Lipscombe refused a preliminary breath test and a blood test was administered. He has been charged with driving while intoxicated. 

KVUE asked the offices of the Honorable John Lipscombe if present or future drunken driving cases would be effected by the judge's arrest.

"Judge Lipscombe will not be making a statement at this time. We have a visiting judge covering his docket and other matters starting today and until he returns. At this time, we do not know when he will return," the office responded.

Lipscombe has been on the bench since 2011. Prior to becoming a judge, he was a prosecutor in the Travis County Attorney's Office. 

Lipscombe was in the news in 2019 after the state commission on judicial conduct admonished him for draping a black cloth over the doors of his court to protest the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying that he "cast discredit on the judiciary."

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