Thursday, February 21, 2008
An Illinois Hearing Board has recommended a two-year suspension with a number of conditions for an attorney who had gained access to his mother's prescription pad (she is a licensed physician) and written himself a prescription for Ritalin using her name. He also used another doctor's prescription pad to attempt to obtain Ritalin. Criminal charges arising out of these incidents are deferred and may be dismissed if the lawyer complies with certain conditions.
Medical testimony at the disciplinary hearing revealed that:
"Respondent suffers from a plethora of health issues. Dr. Henry stated that Respondent suffers from bipolar disorder attention-deficit disorder, personality disorder and a number of poly-substance abuse and dependence issues. Dr. Henry also stated that Respondent suffers from sleep apnea, morbid obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Dr. Henry [the ARDC expert in forensic psychiatry] opined that Respondent’s misconduct alleged in Count I was a very deliberate and conscious attempt to preserve and enhance an elevated mood state. At that time, Respondent was suffering active symptoms of bipolar disorder. Dr. Henry opined that Respondent’s misconduct alleged in Count II was a very goal-directed and organized attempt to sabotage his career. Dr. Henry opined that Respondent’s bipolar disorder, specifically the depressive phase, was very much linked and very much mitigated the behavior that is alleged in Count II."
As to sanction, the hearing board states:
"In mitigation, Respondent has not been previously disciplined. The evidence shows, by testimony offered by the Administrator’s witness, that Respondent suffers from bipolar disorder, attention-deficit disorder, personality disorder and a number of poly-substance abuse and dependence issues. Respondent also suffers from sleep apnea, morbid obesity, hypertension and diabetes. In aggravation, we are troubled by Respondent’s failure to authorize Dr. Henry to speak with Respondent’s psychiatrist, primary care physician and probation case manager. We also find Respondent’s failure to offer character witness testimony as well as employment documentation evidence in aggravation. We note that while Respondent is not required to testify, the Hearing Panel would have appreciated hearing Respondent’s testimony regarding several issues, i.e. his employment status and functions, his rehabilitation strategies, and his explanation for failing to comply with Dr. Henry’s requests. In addition, although Respondent is presently enrolled in a deferral program for two felonies where he pled guilty, we note that the successful completion of that program is scheduled to occur after the conclusion of these proceedings and that the failure of Respondent to comply would result in the reinstatement of those felony convictions." (Mike Frisch)