June 23, 2010
An Arizona Hearing Officer has recommended a censure with probation for two years of an attorney whose bar problems started when police responded to the ringing of his home security alarm. No one was home but the garage door was partially open. The police entered the garage and noticed an odor of marijuana and plastic wrapping. They got a search warrant and found "plastic wrap with marijuana residue, a small scale and an empty box for a larger digital scale."
The attorney claimed he was set up. He was charged with two felonies. At his first trial, the jury hung. Fourteen months later, a jury found him guilty of lesser-included charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation and voluntarily entered the Bar's member assistance program. While he maintained his innocence of the criminal charges, he told the Bar program director that he had previously used marijuana and "was interested in stopping that use completely." He has been drug-free for three years, which has been verified through testing of his hair follicles.
The hearing officer concluded that suspension was not necessary under the circumstances. The State Bar had supported a departure from the presumptive sanction of a suspension. (Mike Frisch)
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