The attorney representing history professor Paul Kennedy has confirmed statements made by several Yale professors denying accusations that Kennedy was intoxicated and unlicensed at the time of his Feb. 2 accident.
In the weeks following Kennedy’s arrest, several of Kennedy’s friends and colleagues, including history professor John Gaddis, came to Kennedy’s defense, saying Kennedy was neither intoxicated nor unlicensed when his car hit student Marisa Green MUS ’06.
Greg Pepe, Kennedy’s lawyer, reiterated claims that Kennedy was sober at the time of the accident. He said Kennedy, who contracted polio at age 2, has a noticeable stagger in his walk and uses shoes with orthopedic corrections.
“If you are a police officer and you respond to an automobile accident at one in the morning and the person who gets out of the car is staggering, I think 98 times out of 100, the person is impaired,” Pepe said. “This is one of those [other] two times.”
Even though he was completely sober, Pepe said, Kennedy would not have been able to pass the field sobriety tests administered by the police.
Ann Carter-Drier, an administrator at Yale’s International Security Studies Center, said Kennedy underwent his most recent leg surgery shortly before the accident and had been walking with a limp since then.
According to New Haven Police Department Spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester, police officers have the authority to arrest a driver for driving under the influence if the driver is unable to pass field sobriety tests, which include walking in a straight line and balancing on one leg.
On Feb. 5, Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said in an e-mail that alcohol did not play a role in Kennedy’s accident. Klasky also denied allegations that Kennedy was driving with a suspended license, saying that his license is current and valid.
Pepe said Kennedy was licensed, insured and registered at the time of the accident and that the charges stemmed from inaccurate records and clerical errors.
Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Kelly Manning said on Feb. 8 that Kennedy’s insurance was canceled on Aug. 8, 2003. In response to the canceled insurance, Manning said, the DMV canceled Kennedy’s vehicle registration on Jan. 8, 2004, and suspended his driver’s license on March 17 of the same year.
But Pepe said the DMV’s actions were erroneous.
“The Department of Motor Vehicles received a notice which indicated to them that his vehicle had lapsed, but that was false,” Pepe said.
Pepe said he is confident all charges will be dropped against Kennedy, but said that Kennedy does not plan on pursuing legal action against the NHPD or the DMV.
“This is just a series of unfortunate events,” he said.
Gaddis said the accident occurred when Kennedy, an expert in military history and strategy and the director of the University’s International Security Studies program, was driving to check on Gaddis’ wife, theater professor Toni Dorfman, at the request of Gaddis, who was out of town at the time.
Police reports said Kennedy was driving down Bishop Street when he hit Green as she was exiting her parked vehicle. He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, illegally operating a motor vehicle while under suspension, illegally operating a motor vehicle without insurance, following too closely and operating an unregistered motor vehicle.
Court officials said Kennedy, who appeared for a hearing at the New Haven Superior Court last Thursday, is expected to reappear in court for a hearing on March 9.