June 18, 2009
Flight To Bar Discipline
An Illinois hearing board has recommended discipline based on the following admitted facts:
On November 25, 2005, Respondent was on United Airlines flight number 1502 from Orlando, Florida to Washington D.C. At some point during the flight, Respondent engaged in disruptive behavior. He was arrested by federal air marshals, and the flight was diverted to Charlotte, North Carolina. On December 13, 2005, a one-count indictment was filed against Respondent in the federal district court of North Carolina, charging Respondent with assaulting and intimidating a flight attendant in violation of 49 U.S.C. sec. 46504. On January 26, 2006, Respondent plead guilty to assaulting and intimidating a flight attendant. On May 22, 2006, he was sentenced to seven months incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $7,339 in restitution to United Airlines and a $100 assessment.
The board recommends that the lawyer, who is on interim suspension, be reinstated without further court order subject to a long list of probationary conditions if he complies with conditions enumerated as part of the proposed three year suspension:
We see no reason to simply require the suspension to remain in effect until further order of the court. Our recommendation gives Respondent the opportunity to address his problems, complete the necessary treatment, and prove that he is capable of returning to the practice of law. This sanction also protects the public as much as the sanction recommended by the Administrator. Respondent would still be suspended for three years. If he complies with the probationary terms, he will have demonstrated a substantial period of sobriety as well as the benefits of extended treatment. If he fails to comply with the terms of probation, he will have to serve a longer suspension that will remain in effect until further order of the court. This sanction essentially gives Respondent the opportunity to do what is necessary to become a reliable and productive member of society and the bar. If he squanders that opportunity, he will have a longer suspension and be required prove that he should be reinstated. To simply suspend Respondent until further order of the court gives him little incentive to continue the treatment he needs and provides no further protection to the public. Our recommended sanction accomplishes the goals of our disciplinary system and is closely tailored to the treatment recommended by [the bar's expert doctor].
Accordingly, we recommend that Respondent be suspended from the practice of law for five years and until further order of the court, with the last two years and the until further order of the court provision stayed by a period of probation subject to the following conditions to commence upon the effective date of the Court’s order and continue until the end of the probationary period...
A report from www.wayodd.com recounts the incident:
Pilots diverted a United Airlines flight traveling from Orlando, Florida to Washington, D.C., after a passenger lit a cigarette and urinated in the aisle.
He's been identified as Mark McGovern. A United Airlines spokeswoman says flight attendants noticed McGovern appeared drunk not long after the plane left Orlando.
She says McGovern later lit a cigarette and began to argue with a flight attendant who asked him to put it out. The spokeswoman says that, after the exchange, McGovern stood up and urinated in the plane's aisle.
The plane landed Friday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, after being diverted from its direct flight.
McGovern was taken into custody by federal authorities, Charlotte/Douglas International Airport director Jerry Orr says. Orr says it's infrequent that federal air marshals have to restrain and remove a passenger.
The 117 passengers on board were on the ground for only 23 minutes before the flight took off for Dulles Airport.
A customer service representative for United Airlines says the airline's drinking policy does not have a set maximum for ordering alcohol while in the air, but if a passenger does become unruly the pilot will land the plane.
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We are all charged with knowing how much alcohol we can handle but that isn't necessarily true when we are not on the surface. Maybe the airlines should just stop serving alcohol at 15,000 foot pressure altitude? That would avoid a lot of problems.
Posted by: FixedWing | Jun 18, 2009 8:30:13 AM