Legal Ethics

Lawyer Suspended After 4th DWI, a Felony; Repeat Offenses Showed He Acted 'Knowingly'

Imposing a more severe sanction than sought by the Missouri Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, the state supreme court has indefinitely suspended a lawyer convicted of his fourth drunken-driving offense in 11 years.

While OCDC had suggested that a suspension be stayed, the court said in an en banc opinion (PDF) last week that attorney Byron Stewart’s repeated convictions for driving while intoxicated, in 1997 and 2004, 2006 and 2008, showed he had acted “knowingly” in committing the latest DWI, a felony.

“[W]hile this Court recognizes Stewart’s commitment to recovery from substance abuse and notes his apparent ability to insulate his practice of law from the effects of his alcoholism, we cannot ignore the deleterious effect of his conduct on the reputation of the legal profession,” the opinion states.

Stewart was first licensed in Missouri in 1982. He will have to wait at least six months to apply for reinstatement.

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.

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