We hope you're sitting down, because it appears that a relative of a big shot judge is getting preferential treatment by our justice system! Sorry to start the day on such a cynical note, but even Christopher Samenga's attorney can't quite deny the role his client's pedigree played in the sweetheart sentencing for his third DWI. "I think [the judge] recognized the last name and that she knew that his grandfather had been a judge, but I don't think this had much to do with it in terms of the case," Samenga's lawyer Peter Gerstenzang tells Newsday (paywall). That's right, not "much." Just a tad.

Samenga, 34, of Massapequa, was arrested November 14th after he crashed into another car. There were no injuries, but his blood-alcohol content registered .19 percent. (The legal limit is .08 percent.) In 1998, Samenga pleaded guilty to felony DWI in Nassau County, and in 2003 he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DWI in NYC. He received probation in both pleas, and we're sure the sentencing didn't have "much" to do with the fact that his grandfather is retired judge Alfred Samenga Sr., who was appointed to the State Supreme Court in Nassau in 1985 after serving in District and County court for two decades.

Last week acting Supreme Court Justice Meryl Berkowitz sentenced Samenga to a third probation after he completed a six-month alcohol treatment program. Berkowitz's sentence recognized that he was "motivated towards recovery," but Berkowitz promised to send Samenga to prison if he relapsed. "She promised him on-the-record that any kind of slip and he's gone," his lawyer says. Hopefully that slip won't involve people dying—or at least not anybody important.

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice tells CBS 2, "This is another example of how society and the judiciary just don't get it. Drunk driving kills and when you see cases like this you shake your head and say 'how can this be?'"