Tuesday, September 4, 2007
The problem of an appropriate disciplinary response to illegal conduct involving drug use absent a showing that abuse resulted in incompetent client representation was recently addressed by a hearing committee of the Louisiana Attorney Discipline Board. The case involved an attorney detained in a parked car found in possession of hydrocodone, oxycodone and xanax. He successfully completed a federal pre-trial diversion program, entered a recovery program and transferred to disability inactive status.
The lawyer and disciplinary counsel submitted a petition for consent discipline that was rejected by the Louisiana Supreme Court. Formal charges were filed. Finding the case "one of the more difficult cases [we] have had to consider," the hearing committee was "deeply impressed" with the lawyer's rehabilitation efforts from the time of his arrest. The committee recommends a stayed three year suspension conditioned on continuing recovery and "careful suervision" by the bar's Lawyers Assistance Program and Alcoholics Anonymous. (Mike Frisch)