The case of Judge Oren R. Lewis of the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, ticketed for allegedly refusing to obey a U.S. Park Police officer, will be heard next month by John A. Mackenzie Jr., chief federal trial judge for Eastern Virginia, Mackenzie said yesterday.
Mackenzie said he ordered a postponement of the case involving Lewis, an 80-year-old, semiretired judge, "until I can come up and try it." The chief judge, who is based in Norfolk, said he expected to be in Alexandria after the first of the year.
Lewis, who technically retired in 1973 but who still hears cases, triggered the unusual procedure after indicating he would challenge the charge in court. All three U.S. magistrates in Alexandria, who are junior to Lewis, have excused themselves from hearing the case.
The prosecution of the case is being handled by the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section because federal prosecutors in Alexandria also have asked not to be involved.
Deputy Park Police Chief J.C. Lindsey said yesterday the ticket was issued Oct. 22 by Officer John L. Loveland during morning rush hour at Spout Run Parkway and George Washington Memorial Parkway. Lindsey declined to elaborate.
Law enforcement sources, who asked to remain unidentified, said Lewis was ordered to pull his vehicle off the road to make way for a fire truck responding to a call. Lewis, gruff and outspoken in his courtroom, and Loveland apparently exchanged words, the sources said.
Loveland first issued Lewis a ticket charging failure to yield the right-of-way, but the charge later was changed to failure to obey a police officer, according to the sources.
The latter charge is punishable by up to six months and a $500 fine. Lewis has declined to comment.