July 13, 2011
Short Relapses Do Not Prevent Reinstatement
An attorney who had been suspended for a total of 24 months in a series of orders has been reinstated to practice by the North Dakota Supreme Court.
The attorney has struggled with alcohol addiction and the hearing panel found:
In its Report, the Hearing Panel found [the attorney] has a long history of alcohol addiction and recovery. The Hearing Panel found that at the time of her suspension, she was not participating in an appropriate recovery program, which contributed to mental health issues that were a causative factor in the misconduct for which she was disciplined. The Hearing Panel found [she] has since completed an intensive inpatient program for chemical dependency, aftercare, participated in Alcoholics Anonymous, worked with sponsors, and attended addiction support meetings at intervals recommended by the sponsors. The Hearing Panel noted her addiction counselor, sponsor, and her support group sponsor testified or filed written evidence in support of [her] reinstatement.
The Hearing Panel found [the attorney] was, at the time of the hearing and for the proceeding year, employed as a legal assistant in the legal department of the Dawson County Domestic Violence Program, in Glendive, Montana, but was not engaging in the practice of law. Sheila Newman and John T. Hrubes, attorneys with the Dawson County Domestic Violence Program, submitted written evidence of her work performance and in support of her reinstatement.
The Hearing Panel was concerned about two short incidents of relapse in July and November 2010. Its concern was allayed by testimony from [the attorney], her addiction counselor, and her support group sponsor that she reported each incident to her support group sponsors and staff members at the aftercare program, and that she reworked her recovery program.
The attorney will be subject to monitoring. (Mike Frisch)
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