Torn to take DWI case to nonjury trial

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Rip Torn wants a nonjury trial on a charge of driving while intoxicated, a county clerk said.

The 76-year-old actor was charged Dec. 4 after a crash on Hardscrabble Road in North Salem, a suburb about 60 miles north of New York City. Torn, who lives in Lakeville, Conn., had lost control of his sedan and struck a tractor-trailer.

Torn refused a sobriety test and was charged with DWI, state police said.

A court clerk told The Journal News on Tuesday that Torn had decided on the nonjury trial, scheduled for June.

The actor was initially represented by Adam Levy of Carmel, who is running for Putnam County district attorney and is the son of television's "Judge Judy" Scheindlin. But Levy said Torn has hired a new lawyer.

"We're waiting to confirm that he has new counsel. We did not put the case on the nonjury trial list," Levy told The Journal News.

Torn's publicist, Dick Guttman, said Wednesday the actor wasn't driving while intoxicated; rather, he was "disoriented from the accident."

"Rip's recollection is suddenly there was a truck going past him and then veering in on him," striking his car, Guttman told The Associated Press. "He went into a ditch, he went out cold. When he came to, the police officer said that someone had called and said that Rip had struck them."

Levy represented Torn in a 2004 drunken-driving case in New York City in which the actor was acquitted after jurors said the prosecution failed to prove that he was drinking before his fender-bender with a taxi. Police videotape showed Torn berating police officers and refusing a sobriety test. Levy said Torn refused because he was angry, not drinking.

Torn's screen credits include the "Men in Black" movies. He was nominated for an Oscar for 1983's "Cross Creek," and won an Emmy Award in 1996 for playing the hard-drinking producer on TV's "The Larry Sanders Show."

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