Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PTSD Mitigation

The Vermont Professional Responsibility Board has admonished an attorney for lack of diligence in a bankruptcy matter, failure to communicate with the client and failure to respond to the ensuing bar complaint.

The board found significant mitigation:

Respondent suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression.  His symptoms first appeared in 2002, and in September of 2009 he sought treatment from a psychologist.  Respondent is currently participating in therapy and is taking medication for treatment of his PTSD and depression.

            By late 2005, Respondent’s illness caused him to avoid stressors and making decisions.  This impacted his ability to practice law to the extent that he actively sought employment outside the law.  In 2009, he left the law altogether and is currently working as the executive director of an organization which provides social services to area residents.

In June of 2009, Respondent’s wife suffered a grand mal seizure while at a hospital for tests.  She was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.  When medication failed to stop the seizures, she was placed in a medically induced coma for a week.  His wife’s health adversely affected Respondent’s ability to focus on his clients.

            Respondent did not renew his license in July of 2010, and as a result his license has been suspended on an administrative basis by the Supreme Court’s Attorney Licensing Office.  Respondent has no present intention to renew his license to practice law.

            A.G. [the client] secured the assistance of another attorney to assist her with her bankruptcy.  Other than her frustration at the delay, she did not suffer any actual harm.

Respondent has never had a sanction imposed against his license to practice law.

In Vermont, an admonition does not identify the sanctioned attorney by name. (Mike Frisch)


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