Thursday, December 6, 2018

Ex-Spousal Support May Facilitate Reinstatement

An Illinois Hearing Board has recommended that a suspended attorney be reinstated on conditions.

He was admitted in 1980 with a problem

Petitioner used cannabis every day from the time he was in college until 2006. He began using alcohol at age sixteen. Between 1999 and 2006, he had five to seven drinks per day. He did not use cannabis or alcohol during the work day while practicing law. (Tr. 396-98). During the time period leading up to his suspension, Petitioner's alcohol use escalated and he was experiencing depression and anxiety. (Tr. 98-100).

He engaged in misconduct in nine criminal defense matters.

On November 18, 2008, pursuant to a joint petition to impose discipline on consent, the Court suspended Petitioner for three years and until further order of the Court, with the suspension stayed after six months by probation subject to numerous conditions.

Petitioner relapsed with cannabis in December 2009. At the time of the relapse he was undergoing individual therapy. He did not report the relapse to the Administrator, but it was discovered after a failed drug screen. (Tr. 107-108). Petitioner had another failed drug screen in April 2010, after a second relapse with cannabis. (Tr. 111).

On July 9, 2010, the Court entered an order enforcing a rule to show cause against Petitioner for violating the conditions of his probation by using cannabis and failing to report that he did so. The Court revoked Petitioner's probation, vacated the stay of his suspension, and suspended Petitioner for the remaining two and one-half years of his suspension and until further order of the Court.

But he has made great strides

Petitioner has dedicated the past several years to working with others who suffer from addiction and mental health disorders. His supervisors and coworkers describe him as responsible, trustworthy, and a valued employee. He has worked his way up to a position of considerable responsibility at Loretto Hospital. His efforts speak to his character and demonstrate to us that he has returned to a beneficial, constructive, and trustworthy role.

Given Petitioner's history of addiction, we recommend that his return to practice be subject to oversight and other conditions, should he be reinstated. We incorporate Dr. Gershan's recommended conditions with the exception of the condition that Petitioner obtain a mentor other than Shelby Prusak. We understand Dr. Gershan's concerns regarding Petitioner's former spouse acting in a supervisory role. However, having considered all of the relevant evidence, including Ms. Prusak's testimony before us, we find that Shelby Prusak will be an appropriate supervisor. She has an established practice and will require Petitioner to work as her associate. She is willing and able to monitor Petitioner's work on a daily basis. In addition, having listened to Ms. Prusak's testimony and observed her demeanor, we find she has thoughtfully considered this arrangement and understands her responsibilities. We also consider the evidence that Petitioner has improved his interpersonal skills and he and Ms. Prusak now have an amicable relationship.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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