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It's a tale as old as lawyering. Lawyer has a drug problem. Lawyer goes to court. Lawyer starts jonesing for their drug of choice. Lawyer sneaks off to bathroom to snort drugs off their cell phone in a toilet stall. Someone overhears the suspicious noises and reports it to court security. Lawyer gets arrested while in court for doing drugs in the courthouse bathroom.
Sadly, for one law student intern in Macon, Georgia, she is living this unfortunate tale before even becoming a lawyer. At a court hearing, before 10:00 am, a bailiff was notified that she had allegedly snorted oxycodone off her cell phone while in the courthouse bathroom, then she walked into the courtroom to assist the attorney for which she was interning. The bailiff then notified the sheriff who made the arrest.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
If you're doing illegal drugs in a public bathroom stall anywhere, it's probably safe to say you have a problem. Also, if you are crushing pain pills to snort them, even if those pills are properly prescribed to you, you probably should talk to a doctor because that's also a sign of a serious addiction problem. Heck, even legal drugs, like alcohol and recreational marijuana (in some states), have a proper time and place for consumption, and the courthouse bathroom, before 10:00 a.m., is not one of them.
Lawyers are rather prone to drug and alcohol abuse. It's a stressful job that requires quite a bit of emotional fortitude, which some lawyers often find is easily bolstered by frequent alcohol or drug consumption. Unfortunately, relying on drugs or alcohol can lead to addiction problems, which can lead to professional problems, and worse, serious health risks.
Moral Character and Substance Abuse
When a law student seeks admission to a state bar, they must undergo a moral character and fitness review. These reviews will often inquire about substance abuse issues. If a candidate has an arrest record related to drug crimes or alcohol abuse, these will need to be explained. And while most states will forgive small trespasses that are in the past, the more recent the problem, or the more recent the arrest/conviction, the more difficulty a candidate will have passing the moral character review.
This law student intern's story may give some a chuckle because of its over-the-top nature, but it is a stark reminder to those in and entering the legal profession, that we are not immune from the dangers of substance abuse. And while this arrest may only make the intern's path to becoming an attorney more difficult, it could also be what saves her life (and maybe yours too), as the dangers of snorting oxycodone are significant.
Attorneys that find themselves facing an addiction problem should get professional help before their addiction gets in the way of their professional duties (as a drug conviction will get reported to your state bar), or worse, their good health.