Saturday, January 30, 2010
An attorney who was convicted of a single incident of impaired driving where no conditions regarding alcohol treatment were imposed may not be subject to professional sanction, according to a recent decision of the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board. The board rejected the public reprimand with conditions that had been imposed by a hearing panel, finding that there was insufficient evidence of an ongoing problem with alcohol to conclude that the isolated incident warranted sanction:
In some cases, the record evidence will clearly establish that a respondent has been unable or unwilling to address an alcohol problem that affects his or her ability to practice. In those situations, discipline and appropriate conditions are called for. This case, however, in no way resembles such situations. Even if the record indicates what could be deemed excessive alcohol consumption at certain points in respondent's life, we must also consider the evidence of respondent's voluntary cessation or reduction of alcohol use during most periods of her life, which include consistent employment in responsible positions, childbirth and child-rearing years, and graduation cum laude from law school while working. We cannot conclude that the discipline imposed below is necessary or appropriate in this case.
The board notes that the conviction establishes misconduct under a 1997 precedent, but exercises its discretion to impose no discipline in light of the above-quoted considerations. (Mike Frisch)