Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"I Would Disbar This Felon"

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has suspended an attorney for two years and a day for three misdemeanor and one felony conviction. The facts:

This case is a disciplinary proceeding against Respondent...[He] was convicted in Pawnee County of felony unlawful possession of a controlled substance, Oxycodone. He was placed on three years' probation, with the first year under supervision of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Respondent was also convicted of three misdemeanors in Tulsa County - one count of entering a building with the unlawful intent to commit assault and battery, and two counts of assault and battery upon the persons of an eleven-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy. He received a one-year sentence for entering a building with unlawful intent, with the first 23 days to be served in Avalon and the remaining suspended. For the assaults, Respondent received 90-day sentences, with part in the custody of Avalon and part suspended, to run concurrently with the sentence for entering with unlawful intent.

...we issued an Order of Interim Suspension. We subsequently referred the matter to a Professional Responsibility Tribunal, because the probable cause affidavit in the Pawnee County felony case indicated that Respondent (1) took payment, at least partially, from a client in the form of Oxycodone, (2) received payment for legal services in the form of drugs on other occasions, and (3) occasionally took sexual favors from women for payment of legal fees.

...We also specially noted the Tulsa County misdemeanor convictions stemmed from misconduct occurring less than three months after this Court disciplined Respondent for prior criminal misconduct....we publicly censured Respondent on June 26, 2006, for his inappropriate touching of two Tulsa County Courthouse female security guards in February 2004. Respondent entered guilty pleas to two misdemeanor charges of outraging public decency stemming from this incident and received concurrent one-year sentences on each charge. He was also ordered to perform forty hours of community service.

As to sanction:

Respondent has offered no evidence in mitigation as to his reputation as an attorney. Respondent continues to drink alcohol and abuse other substances and has shown a lack of judgment and repeated indifference to the law. At the hearing before the PRT, Respondent was asked if he wanted the panel and this Court to give him a third chance. Respondent responded by stating "yes, because that's what life is sir. If you make a mistake today, you'll learn from it. You make a different mistake tomorrow, you'll learn from that one. Life is about mistakes and getting a second chance to not make it."

This Court finds by Respondent's own testimony that he does not recognize his problems and that he does not seek and/or cooperate in treatment except on the occasions where he thinks "he needs it." While not bound by the recommendations of the PRT, this Court agrees that Respondent's actions have fallen woefully short of being rehabilitated. We find that he has failed to take any meaningful steps to address and resolve his addictions and their adverse impact on his fitness to practice law.

Two justices would disbar. Justice Taylor said bluntly and in bold-face type: "I would disbar this felon." (Mike Frisch)

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