April 28, 2012
"The Lens Of Public Protection" Sees Reinstatement
The Colorado Hearing Board has granted the reinstatement petition of a suspended attorney who, while driving under the influence of alcohol, caused the death of an Air Force veteran just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq.
The attorney was suspended for two years as a result of the 2004 incident, has completed his prison sentence and is presently serving his parole.
The question of readmitting a suspended attorney while still on parole was one of first impression in Colorado.
The Hearing Board acknowledged that the petitioner's parole conditions, which include a prohibition against driving and limitations on travel "will create some practical impediments to running an efficient law practice."
The Hearing Board stated that the petition "should be examined through the lens of public protection, rather than based on the results of the misconduct."
The board noted that the petitioner had no other discipline and that the conduct was unlikely to reoccur. Petitioner testified he has not consumed alcohol since the incident.
The People had argued that petitioner lacked remorse. The Hearing Board noted that he had sued Mothers Against Drunk Driving and his own counsel in the bar proceedings, but found these post-accident suits did not preclude reinstatement. Petitioner said he was sorry he had filed those lawsuits.
The mother and father of the deceased testified in the proceeding. The Hearing Board states that it was "moved by the testimony" and "considered their grief in making this very difficult decision."
I suspect these two members of the public see this case through a different lens than the hearing board.
The original suspension order is linked here. Note that petitioner had argued that a public censure was the appropriate sanction for his vehicular homicide (DUI) conviction. (Mike Frisch)
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