The Reverend Salvatore Cordileone was driving his mother home from a dinner with some of his friends when he was stopped at a DUI checkpoint in San Diego. Police administered a chemical test and he was “found to be over the California legal blood alcohol level,” Cordileone said. Police arrested Cordileone and booked him into the San Diego county jail on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI).
The bishop posted $2500 bond, was released from jail, and is scheduled to appear in court on October 9. He made a public apology for his “error in judgment” and “feels shame for the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself.” He went on to say that “I will repay my debt to society.”
Because Cordileone made a statement to police and the public, this information will be used against him at his criminal proceedings, should he plead not guilty to the charges.
Cordileone was selected by Pope Benedict XVI to be installed as the Archbishop of San Francisco and two other neighboring counties on October 4. Canon law experts agree, however, that a criminal charge will not automatically prompt a delay in his installation, citing that Catholic bishops are answerable only to the pope.
For many other professions, however, this type of “immunity” does not exist. Those charged with DUI or other criminal offenses can find their professional licenses suspended or revoked, and their employment threatened.
That Cordileone is a high-profile Catholic bishop does not win him any favors in the criminal justice system, though. In fact, his criminal defense attorney Bruce Kapsack has represented priests, rabbis, imams, and Buddhist monks. “Actually, the higher profile the individual, the stricter the situation becomes,” Kapsack states. This is due primarily to authorities going out of their way to avoid mistakes and the embarrassment it would cause.
When stopped on suspicion of DUI, explaining the situation is natural, but your best choice is always to politely state your intent to cooperate, but not to volunteer information or in any way incriminate yourself. This information will be used against you. If you or a loved one is arrested or charged with DUI, call the Law Offices of Staycie R. Sena immediately at (949) 477-8088.