Erie judge to be reprimanded over waving gun

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -An Erie district judge faced a sanctions hearing Thursday ordered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for waving a handgun at another motorist in what the court calls a case of road rage.

Judge Thomas Carney was scheduled to appear before the state Court of Judicial Discipline in Harrisburg.

The disciplinary court acquitted Carney of misconduct in connection with the 2009 encounter, in which he held his gun outside his car window after exchanging obscene gestures with another driver while traveling along Interstate 79.

The Supreme Court overturned the ruling in October, saying Carney’s behavior brought his office into disrepute, and remanded the case to the disciplinary court to impose sanctions that range from a reprimand to removal from an office, which carries an $86,639 salary.

Carney’s lawyer didn’t return a call seeking comment Thursday.

Carney, 59, was driving home to Erie after attending a Pittsburgh Steelers game when the encounter happened, according to court papers. After the two drivers exchanged angry gestures, Carney pulled alongside the two college students in the other vehicle and held up his gun with his index finger and thumb for a few seconds. The other driver backed off and slowed down.

The disciplinary court found that Carney displayed his gun, for which he had a license, in “an effort to defuse the situation.” But the Supreme Court said it was Carney who had initiated the dispute by passing the other car while make an obscene gesture with his middle finger.

“There is no indication why (Carney) did not simply slow down and let the other car pass instead of choosing to retrieve and brandish a gun as a way to de-escalate the situation,” Chief Justice Ronald Castille wrote in the opinion.

State police charged Carney with misdemeanor counts that included making terroristic threats and recklessly endangering another person. He pleaded guilty in 2009 to two summary counts of disorderly conduct and paid a $541 fine, according to court papers.

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