Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Suspension Decision "Not Taken Lightly"

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has ordered a one-year suspension in a case involving allegations that the attorney "is unable to discharge her professional duties due to significant substance abuse and substantial mental health conditions."

The attorney "generally rejects the notion that her profesional conduct has been adversely affected by alcohol, drugs, or any psychiatric condition."

The attorney was admitted in 1998 and represents primarily criminal clients in Maine and Massachusetts.

She had no prior criminal or disciplinary history until she was charged  with driving under the influence in a December 30, 2010 accident. She claimed that the blood drawn on that night was not hers and failed to comply with with an order to provide a blood or tissue sample.

In 2011, the attorney was administratively suspended for failing to renew attorney registration and complete CLE requirements. She continued to practice law after the suspension.

In December 2011, the police responded to a call from the Mictrotel Motel concerning an intoxicated guest. The attorney had left the motel but returned while an officer was present:

As she walked around him, she appeared unsteady on her feet and her sweatshirt was unzipped, revealing her undergarments. [The officer] asked her to stop so he could speak to her, but she refused to respond to him. He followed her to the elevator and put his foot in the door so it would not close. [The attorney] said she would fight him if he tried to put her in handcuffs.

As the police officer entered the elevator, the attorney kicked at him. A search revealed prescription pills.

She was stopped by the same officer for driving while suspended in January 2012 and picked up a driving under the influence charge in February 2012. She was admitted to a hospital  and a full psychological workup was done.

She pled guilty to criminal charges, was placed on probation and was jailed for probation violation.

The court's decision to suspend  the attorney was "not taken lightly." The attorney was able to compensate with her alcohol and mental health issues until the death of her father and her own divorce. While her "chronic alcoholism and bi-polar disorder can, in all likelihood, be managed with proper medication, supervision, and treatment," she "is currently mired in the depression of having hit rock-bottom. She will need help and a plan to dig out."

The court thus set a number of conditions that must be met for reinstatement. (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2013/05/suspension-decision-not-taken-lightly.html

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