Friday, May 17, 2013

The 14 Percent Chance

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has reinstated an attorney suspended for two years in 2010 for possession of heroin and felony bail jumping.

The court described the situation that led to the conviction

Attorney C. began using illegal drugs around 2006, and he admitted being "coked up" while handling legal cases in court.  The referee noted that Deputy Sergeant Patek of the Walworth County Sheriff's Department testified at the reinstatement hearing that Attorney Compton's conduct before his arrest included possession and delivery of both heroin and cocaine.  Deputy Sheriff Long of the Walworth County Sheriff's Department testified that Attorney Compton's conduct before his arrest had a major impact on a woman who was a significant person in Attorney C.'s life, and the woman ultimately lost her teaching license as a result of drug conduct and her relationship with Attorney C.  Deputy Sheriff Long described Attorney C. as a "great person" and "a very smart attorney."

Lake Geneva News.com had this report on the criminal case.

The petitioner had turned his life around to a remarkable degree and has been drug-free for nearly five years.

There was testimony from a representative of the bar's recovey program that after five years of sobriety, there is a 14% chance of relapse.

The court:

In spite of Attorney C.'s remarkable efforts to turn his life around, the referee did express some concern about the possibility of relapse.  Although Ms. Albert put the risk of a relapse at approximately 14 percent for someone who has been free of drugs and alcohol for five years, the referee said when it comes to trusting a lawyer to serve the public and the legal profession, a 14 percent relapse rate still needs to be addressed.  For that reason, the referee recommends that Attorney C. remain under close monitoring, similar to his current WisLAP monitoring, for a minimum of two years from the date of his reinstatement.  The referee said extending the monitoring deadline beyond the October 1, 2014 expiration of his current WisLAP monitoring agreement will not only provide further support for Attorney C., but will also allow a quicker response to any relapse.

In response to the concerns of the two sheriff's deputies that Attorney C.'s term of suspension has been insufficient given his criminal convictions, the referee pointed out that this court saw fit to suspend Attorney C.'s license for a period of two years.  The referee said during that two-year period, Attorney C. has done everything possible to rehabilitate himself; he appears rehabilitated; and expert testimony shows there is very little more that can be done for him.  The referee said to deny reinstatement on the basis that a two-year suspension was not long enough would be second guessing this court's choice of the appropriate period of suspension and would also be ignoring Attorney C.'s nearly perfect record at rehabilitation up to this time.

The court order provides that the attorney's recovery be monitored for two years. (Mike Frisch)

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