Friday, January 22, 2021
The Kansas Supreme Court has imposed an indefinite suspension of an attorney who got caught up in her boyfriend's marijuana business and initially lied to police when they were pulled over for a traffic stop.
The court held out hope for her return to good standing
We are cognizant of the severity of the respondent's transgressions. She was present during drug deals, used illegal drugs, lied to legal authorities, and ignored administrative authorities. Both parties agree that the punishment for what the respondent did should be suspension of her license to practice law. A majority of this court agrees, though a minority of the court would impose a lesser level of discipline. We believe it is just that serious actions result in serious consequences.
But the respondent also, ultimately, told the truth to legal authorities and cooperated with administrative authorities. She apparently stopped using illegal drugs and stopped hanging out with those who used them and sold them. We know she could
have ended there and just said goodbye to the law license she fought so hard to achieve. The respondent did not give up, though she had to know the way would be difficult. We note her tenacity and observe she has overcome great difficulties. Respondent had suffered teenage abuse from a boyfriend during the same time she watched her mother lose a long battle with cancer. Unfortunately, trauma such as that leads to mental health issues and concerns that last for years. Respondent's problems with loneliness and depression only exacerbated other mental health issues that challenged her personally and in her relationships. Though she was able to excel in her education, and even earned a law degree, her emotional issues and their aftermath continued to plague her. The respondent's legal and license-related issues were not the end of this dark road. She eventually became homeless and lived for a time in her car.
What the respondent did after that was impressive. She got into counseling and worked the plan. For the last year-and-a-half, she has asked for help and received the help offered. She has continued to receive counseling and claims to have remained drug and alcohol free for many months. Respondent has a family and a job of which she is proud.
She has done much in her personal and professional life to restore her good health and her good name. Actions speak loudly, especially when they are difficult and take a long time.
Suspension of a law license does not need to signal the end of a legal career. As a court, we want to encourage the respondent to continue her recovery and continue to fight for the law license she worked so hard to obtain. Suspension will be effective as of the date of the panel's final report—December 20, 2019.