Legal Ethics

Divided Okla. Supreme Court Censures Lawyer After 3rd Booze-Related Driving Incident in 3 Years

After three alcohol-related driving incidents over a period of roughly three years, all of which resulted in either his arrest or the issuance of a citation, an Oklahoma attorney received a censure from the state’s top court.

However, a divided Oklahoma Supreme Court declined in a 5-4 ruling to impose the sanction recommended by dissenting judges. They called for Lewis B. Moon to be suspended immediately “due to his history with alcohol, guns, lying and outrageous behavior and in order to protect the public and uphold the standards of the legal profession.”

In a written opinion (PDF) issued Tuesday, the majority held that “the attorney’s misconduct warrants public censure and a deferred suspension of two years and one day under conditions intended to assist the attorney in maintaining his sobriety and to protect the public.”

It notes that Moon was remorseful; took responsibility, apologized and cooperated with the investigation; has since undergone treatment for his alcoholism and maintained his sobriety; and had no other disciplinary history.

As the opinion also notes, Moon’s conduct resulted in publicity that cast the legal profession in a negative light. Police say he spit on an officer in 2008 after he was arrested in an intoxicated state while in a vehicle in Whataburger restaurant drive-through in Oklahoma. He then made headlines after a cellphone video of Moon and another attorney reportedly involved in the incident, apparently recorded while they were in the police lockup, was posted on the Internet. Several months later, a Wyoming law enforcement officer found Moon, again apparently intoxicated, sitting in a parked vehicle in the roadway. Stopped, he contended he and a companion had been “watching moose.” This resulted in a second drunken-driving arrest. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2009; the earlier case in Oklahoma resulted in a guilty plea to misdemeanor charges, including having actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence, according to the opinion.

A third incident, in 2011, involved a single-vehicle accident in Oklahoma. The driver fled the scene, but the license plate showed that it was registered to Moon. Arriving at his home, responsible law enforcement officers found Moon apparently intoxicated, nude and holding a gun, the opinion says.

A tip of the hat to the Legal Profession Blog. The Associated Press also has a story.

Related coverage:

Oklahoman (reg. req.): “Attorneys arrested in Warr Acres on disorderly complaints”

American Police Beat: “Lawyer spits on cop”

Live Leak: “Two Lawyers arrested for drunk driving….amusing police cell video”

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