Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Untreated Mental Health Problems And Bar Discipline

An Illinois Hearing Board has recommended a one year suspension and until further order ("UFO") of an attorney convicted of child abuse. The conviction involved an incident that caused his daughter to suffer a broken wrist.

Notwithstanding his lack of any prior discipline, the proposed sanction issues was based on expert testimony relating to the attorney's mental health, recounted in part below:

On December 29, 2010, Dr. Henry met with Respondent for three and a half hours for the purpose of re-evaluating Respondent. Dr. Henry testified that Respondent’s mental and physical condition had deteriorated since Dr. Henry last saw Respondent. Dr. Henry stated that Respondent had lost weight, he was very agitated and his paranoia and delusions were marked and striking. For example, Respondent told Dr. Henry that "he was certain there was a feed, not in Dr. Henry’s examining room but in the next examining room, that was being fed to the FBI."

Further, Respondent told Dr. Henry that while he slept, people were tampering with his brain. Respondent also thought that he was a target of a coordinated conspiracy which was being orchestrated by his ex-wife, her attorneys, the FBI, the police, the Lake County justice system and the Lake County police. Finally, Respondent thought that the FBI was intercepting his messages and telephone calls on his mobile phone...

As a result of his 2010 reevaluation, Dr. Henry remained of the opinion that Respondent still suffered from depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. Given the exacerbation of his paranoia in combination with his overall deterioration, Dr. Henry opined that Respondent was manifesting symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. Dr. Henry also testified that Respondent had an unwavering belief that he was being targeted and victimized by those identified in the preceding paragraph. Respondent further believed that Dr. Cohen and Dr. Henry were part of a conspiracy against him...

Dr. Henry was of the opinion that Respondent would not be able to consistently adhere to the Rules of Professional Conduct. As a result of his reevaluation, Dr. Henry made several treatment recommendations for Respondent. First, Dr. Henry recommended that Respondent apply for government financial assistance. Second, Dr. Henry recommended that Respondent be given psychotropic and anti-psychotic medication as well as undergo psychotherapy. Finally, Dr. Henry recommended that Respondent be placed under the care of a primary care physician...

Dr. Henry could not say for sure whether Respondent voiced an opposition to taking psychotropic medication during his evaluations. However, Dr. Henry stated that Respondent had "absolutely no insight as to how sick he was." Dr. Henry opined that Respondent would be quite resistant to taking psychotropic medication. Dr. Henry discussed two potential risks resulting from Respondent’s failure to take psychotropic medication. First, Respondent’s condition could worsen. Second, Respondent might be prone to act on what he perceived to be threats (although other than the incident discussed herein, Respondent does not have a noteworthy history of violence, so this risk is more hypothetical)...

Dr. Henry opined that there was a causal connection between Respondent’s psychiatric condition and the September 30, 2008 battery of his daughter. Dr. Henry stated that the cause of the incident primarily related to Respondent’s Asperger’s syndrome. Finally, Dr. Henry testified to a reasonable degree of medical and psychiatric certainty that Respondent represents a phenomenon known as the downward drift hypothesis, a phenomenon in which individuals with paranoid schizophrenia become ostracized and marginalized, and over time, the person worsens and he or she psychiatrically deteriorates...

A sad likely end to a professional career. (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2011/09/an-illinois-hearing-board-has-recommended-a-one-year-suspension-and-until-further-order-ufo-of-an-attorney-convicted-of-chi.html

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