Legal Ethics

Lawyer Credits Discipline Process for Spurring His ‘Walk Through Sobriety'


An Oklahoma lawyer who credited the lawyer discipline process for spurring his “walk through sobriety” has regained his law license.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court said the lawyer, John Whitworth, was better qualified to practice than when he was admitted to the bar. The Legal Profession Blog notes the opinion.

Whitworth was suspended from practice, effective in 2006, based on a finding that his admitted addiction to methamphetamine made him incapable of practicing law, according to an Oklahoma Supreme Court opinion. He petitioned for reinstatement in September 2010.

At his reinstatement hearing, Whitworth credited the disciplinary hearing leading to his suspension for “the genesis of my walk through sobriety.” Reaching out to family members a couple months before the hearing was also part of the recovery process, he said.

Whitworth testified his addiction had destroyed his professional and family life. He had been homeless, had suffered from cirrhosis and hepatitis, and had gone long periods of time without seeing his children. After reaching out for help, however, he got a job selling appliances at Lowe’s and regularly attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He has been sober and drug-free for more than three years.

The opinion adds that Whitworth was very successful at Lowe’s, where he sells more than $100,000 in appliances nearly every month. He plans to continue working there part-time after his reinstatement.

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