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Arrested judge didn't try to sway police

Police Officer Phil Nash said the two women and a man were arm-in-arm, all highly intoxicated, walking down the middle of a street in Carmel, Calif., at 1:30 a.m.

The man was Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Charles W. Cope.

"All three were holding onto each other to stand up," Nash said in an interview on Tuesday. "Thankfully, there was no traffic. I could have arrested all three for public intoxication."

But he said police were already too busy on other calls. So Nash gave them all a ride to their hotels with a warning to stay off the streets until they sobered up.

For Cope, an arrest followed the next day, April 5, when he was accused of trying to enter the women's hotel room at about 12:30 a.m. The women, a 64-year-old Maryland woman and her 31-year-old daughter, say the door's chain prevented Cope from entering.

Police charged Cope with two misdemeanors: prowling/loitering and peering into an inhabited dwelling. Cope, 52, has pleaded not guilty, saying the women identified the wrong man.

Nash said that Cope asked him as he was being arrested, "Is there anything you can do to make this go away?"

But Nash said he and another officer made it clear they couldn't cut any suspect a break. Both officers say that Cope, who they said had been drinking, never tried to use his position as a judge to influence them.

Cope, reached at his office Tuesday, declined to comment about his arrest, saying he could not talk about a pending criminal investigation.

"I have already told you that this is just a huge misunderstanding," he said.

Nash said the two women were more intoxicated than Cope on April 4. But the following morning, Nash said, the two women were not drunk when they were awakened in their hotel room by the sound of their door opening.

As one woman dialed 911, the other looked out the window and identified Cope, police said.

The women insist that their door was locked and Cope would have needed a key to get in, police said.

Police found Cope walking about a block away. Cope told police he had just finished dinner at a nearby restaurant. But Officer John Nyunt said they soon discovered that the restaurant had been closed at least 90 minutes.