Criminal Justice

Trial Attorney Who Seemed to Have It All Is Now in Jail Awaiting a Bed in Drug Rehab Program


Once a handsome, successful and charismatic criminal defense lawyer described by a fellow Ohio attorney and friend as brilliant in the courtroom, David Scacchetti has had a spectacular fall from grace.

Facing a felony heroin possession charge, the 55-year-old is represented by a public defender and has appeared disheveled in court, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported last week.

His law license was indefinitely suspended today by the Ohio Supreme Court. A slip opinion says this was due to his neglect of client matters and failure to cooperate with an attorney disciplinary investigation, among other issues.

A decade ago, Scacchetti seemingly had it all. Known in 2001 as a successful trial attorney with some high-profile winning cases, he was married to another attorney and living in an upscale home with their two daughters. Then came the death of his father, with whom Scacchetti was very close, and a drug addiction.

Arrested in 2005 and subsequently convicted for purchasing over $10,000 worth of cocaine, he closed his law practice, successfully completed a drug treatment program, then relapsed, the newspaper says.

In 2007, he lost his law license. But he got it back in 2008 after other prominent defense lawyers helped him seek reinstatement.

At first, Scacchetti seemed to be doing well. However, it wasn’t that long before a number of incidents suggested he was struggling again. Among them, Scacchetti arrived late for court, missed court, disobeyed the judges’ orders and last year showed up to represent a client with a black eye. He told a reporter who asked what happened that he had been robbed of several thousand dollars and beaten outside a convenience store at 2 a.m. while buying a milkshake.

Last year, his wife of 25 years divorced him.

His current case resulted in a visit by a probation officer to his home, where drug paraphernalia that Scacchetti admitted was his allegedly was found, according to court documents. He was jailed after he failed to appear for a hearing, then refused the judge’s offer to release him if he went to drug treatment. He has now agreed to go, but is still jailed while awaiting an available bed.

“He’s been addicted for a while. I think he’s tried his best, but it’s hard,” his friend and attorney Bruce Whitman told the Enquirer. “He’s a very sensitive man … about what’s happened to him. It’s embarrassing. It’s humiliating for him to have to go to court.”

Scacchetti declined to comment for the articles, and his lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.

As detailed in another ABAJournal.com post, there is help available for lawyers with addiction issues.

Hat tip: Cincinnati Enquirer.

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