Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Self-Medicating Judge Reinstated With Censure

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has lifted a disability suspension and imposed a public censure of an attorney who entered a guilty plea to two drug-related misdemeanors and felony possession of methamphetamine.

He was suspended in June 2012 after his arrest.

The court recites that

The Respondent testified that he attended law school at the University of Michigan and went to work for the Crowe & Dunlevy law firm in Tulsa after graduation. Later he moved to Idabel, Oklahoma, and began working for LeForce & McCombs. In 2008, he and Kevin Sain set up their own law office in Idabel. They practiced together until 2010. The Respondent testified that his problems began in February 2010 when his brother-in-law committed suicide on the back patio of the family home, using the shotgun Respondent had bought his son for a birthday present. The Respondent and his wife suffered a tremendous amount of guilt and their marriage suffered. The Respondent testified that he became depressed and disillusioned. He had been prescribed hydrocodone for back pain resulting from a football injury in high school. He took it periodically for pain without any trouble. After the suicide of his brother-in-law, he began taking it more and more frequently and he became addicted to it. He then began using methamphetamine to counteract the effects of the hydrocodone.

Following his arrest, the attorney went into a detox program after an intervention by fellow attorneys. He was asked to leave for using valium and methamphetamine.

The court concluded that he has been drug-free and compliant in recovery for more than four months.

In mitigation:

 The Respondent admits that his actions brought discredit upon the Oklahoma Bar Association and he expressed shame and remorse for his actions. The Respondent was the city judge for Idabel, Oklahoma. Headlines in the local newspapers referred to "City Judge Charged with Drug Allegations" and "City Judge Resigns at Removal Hearing." His "mug shot" appeared on the front page of local newspapers. He agrees with the discipline recommended by the trial panel.

A dissent notes that the attorney remains on felony probation and would defer consideration of reinstatement until he completes the five-year term of probation. (Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process, Judicial Ethics and the Courts | Permalink

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