Sunnyside prosecutor on leave after DUI arrest

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- A woman who prosecutes drunk drivers in Sunnyside now faces a similar charge of her own. State troopers arrested Judge Kathleen Hitchcock for DUI Tuesday morning.

Another key leader is Sunnyside is off the job after a run-in with the law. Kathleen Hitchcock was suspended from her role as the city's prosecutor. Troopers said she was drunk Tuesday morning. Two tests on her blood alcohol led to readings three-times the legal limit.

"This person is in a position of trust and responsibility prosecuting the cases against the individuals of the community," said John Darrington, Interim City Manager of Sunnyside.

Hitchcock was under contract with the city until her arrest Tuesday. Her services in Sunnyside have been suspended. This could lead to a termination but it's pending more information.

Not only is she a prosecutor in Sunnyside, but she's a judge in the lower valley. Hitchcock sits on the municipal court bench for Wapato and Granger. Troopers say she pulled over on Interstate 82 between Zillah and Granger. The WSP report states she was only going to be given a verbal warning for speeding. When the trooper couldn't hear her, he leaned in closer to the car window. That's when he says he smelled alcohol and noticed Hitchcock's bloodshot eyes. The report says she admitted drinking two margaritas the night before, but her breathalyzer tests indicate much more. Checked twice, the readings were .253 and .248.

The report goes on to say Hitchcock had a loaded gun in her purse, which is illegal if you're drunk. To end it all officers say she resisted arrest.

"It's very important that the person who is representing the city has the full trust and confidence of the city and of the court system," Darrington said.

Without that trust, Hitchcock is off the job in Sunnyside. Sunnyside is calling in other prosecutors in Yakima County to take over Hitchcock's cases. Her status as a Yakima County judge is unclear. Charges would be filed with Yakima County prosecutors. To get all sides, we tried to contact Kathleen Hitchcock, but could not reach her.