LANSING, Mich. — A judge in Washtenaw County will be suspended without pay for nine months for interfering in a drunken driving case involving an intern.

It’s a break for District Court Judge J. Cedric Simpson. The Judicial Tenure Commission had recommended his removal from office, but the Michigan Supreme Court chose a lighter punishment.

The court says Simpson committed misconduct. In 2013, he went to the scene of a traffic stop involving a staff member whose car struck another vehicle. He identified himself as a judge and asked the officer if Crystal Vargas just needed a ride home.

The judge also contacted the prosecutor, asked for the police report and inquired about possible defense lawyers.

Simpson and Vargas exchanged thousands of calls or texts over four months. The Supreme Court says the judge made misleading statements when he said the “vast bulk” were related to official business.