Thursday, February 5, 2009
The recent trend toward conditional bar admission of applicants with a history of substance abuse problems raises interesting questions concerning the appropriate response to post-conditional admission problems. A recent report of an Arizona hearing officer recommends suspension of a year and a day, with two years probation if readmitted, of an attorney who had been admitted conditionally in 2006. He had failed to follow through with his appointed practice monitor, was twice arrested (but not convicted) for domestic violence, failed to attend mandatory counseling sessions and moved to Utah without notifying the Bar. He is now incarcerated in Utah.
He also had failed to appear in court for a client (due to his incarceration).
The hearing officer viewed the big picture:
...he has emotional as well as alcohol addiction issues. [He] was very candid and admitted that he, right after being admitted to the Bar, tried to go it alone in a solo practice with no support and no assistance. After a period of nine years of sobriety, the stress of providing for his family as well as the stress of running a solo practice became too much for [him] and he resumed consuming alcohol. This led to altercations with his wife, which...caused him to have run-ins with the law. Once [he] fell off the wagon, he not only did not take care of his personal affairs, he did not keep the Bar appraised of his address or respond appropriately when contacted by the Bar.
The proposed sanction was imposed pursuant to a settlement agreement with the Bar. (Mike Frisch)