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Benton County judge’s DUI trial moved out of town

Benton County District Court Judge Terry Tanner will be tried in Yakima County on charges of driving drunk after his case was moved this week to avoid a conflict of interest.
Benton County District Court Judge Terry Tanner will be tried in Yakima County on charges of driving drunk after his case was moved this week to avoid a conflict of interest. Tri-City Herald

The trial of a Benton County judge charged with driving drunk has been moved to Yakima.

Judge Terry M. Tanner, 55, requested and received the change of venue. His attorney, Scott Johnson, noted Tanner is a sitting judge in the jurisdiction where he was arrested and routinely presides over identical cases.

Terry Tanner
Judge Terry Tanner File

The case involving a sitting judge has sparked a flurry of jurisdictional changes.

Judge G. Scott Marinella of Columbia County is assigned to the case.

And the Yakima County Prosecutor’s Office has replaced the Franklin County prosecutor as special prosecutor.

Yakima County prosecutor Joe Brusic agreed to the venue change, and Benton County Superior Court Judge Joseph M. Burrowes signed the order this week.

Tanner, 55, was arrested March 6 and charged with DUI after Benton County sheriff’s deputies were called about 11 p.m. to a crashed Cadillac ATS near Badger Canyon.

The caller said the driver was asleep behind the wheel. When deputies arrived, they found Tanner had walked about 300 feet away.

Tanner spent 11 hours at the Benton County jail before being released on his personal recognizance.

He returned to his $161,092-a-year position the same week, handling his usual docket of cases for the city of Kennewick.

Until his own case is resolved, DUI cases are being assigned to other judges. He also is recusing himself from any cases involving the deputies who arrested him.

Tanner allegedly admitted to driving the Cadillac after drinking at Buffalo Wild Wings in Kennewick.

Tanner is up for election this year.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514, @WendyCulverwell

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