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Matter of Schaffer

May 12, 1995

IN THE MATTER OF PATRICIA LYNN HASBROUCK, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW.


On an Order to show cause why respondent should not be disbarred or otherwise disciplined.

Chief Justice Wilentz and Justices Handler, Pollock, O'Hern, Garibaldi, Stein, and Coleman join in this opinion.

(This syllabus is not part of the opinion of the Court. It has been prepared by the Office of the Clerk for the convenience of the reader. It has been neither reviewed nor approved by the Supreme Court. Please note that, in the interests of brevity, portions of any opinion may not have been summarized).

IN THE MATTER OF PATRICIA LYNNE HASBROUCK, AN ATTORNEY AT LAW (D-29-94)

Argued January 4, 1995 -- Decided May 12, 1995

PER CURIAM

Patricia Lynne Hasbrouck was admitted to the bar in 1981. She practiced in Washington, Warren County. On April 12, 1993, she was apprehended while attempting to have a forged prescription filled in her sister's name. Hasbrouck later disclosed that she had been forging prescriptions since 1986 for darvocet and vicodin for migraine headaches.

Hasbrouck waived indictment. She was admitted to the Morris County Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) on August 2, 1993. In April and May of 1993, prior to her entry into PTI, Hasbrouck had completed a twenty-eight day in-patient substance abuse program at Clear Brook Manor.

With the underlying facts having been conceded, the Office of Attorney Ethics (OAE) moved before the Disciplinary Review Board (DRB) for final discipline. The OAE recommended a six-month suspension. The DRB, however, recommended that a one-year suspended suspension should be imposed.

HELD: The conduct of an attorney who committed criminal offenses, including one based on dishonesty, to maintain an addiction to controlled dangerous substances warrants the imposition of a one-year suspension from the practice of law.

1. Respondent stipulated that her conduct constituted the commission of a crime. Even though that behavior did not arise from a lawyer/client relationship, the imposition of discipline is appropriate. Respondent's conduct warrants strict disciplinary measures because it calls into question her honesty and integrity, as well as her respect for the law. (pp. 5-6)

2. The gravity of respondent's conduct lies not only in its evident disregard for the law but also in its fraudulent and deceptive nature. Hasbrouck sought no help for her addiction, but rather continued illegal and unethical measures to maintain it. (pp. 6-8)

3. Although the DRB found as mitigating factors that respondent's actions were brought about by her addiction and that she had overcome that addiction, the Court cannot under the circumstances invest those factors with much force. Drug addiction generally is not a mitigating factor. Further, respondent did not seek to achieve rehabilitation until after she had been caught. (pp. 9-10)

4. The Court notes the difficulties confronting a recovering addict. This respondent was recently arrested as a suspect in a string of doctor's offices burglaries committed to steal painkillers. As a result, respondent consented to an immediate temporary suspension on March 16, 1995. (pp. 10-11)

5. Although the Court has approved an accelerated discipline process in In re Schaffer, also decided today, that form of discipline will not be available or appropriate in cases such as this, cases that involve a combination of serious drug offenses and misconduct entailing fraud, deception, and the like. The circumstances presented require the imposition of a one-year suspension. (p. 11-12)

So Ordered.

CHIEF JUSTICE WILENTZ and JUSTICES HANDLER, POLLOCK, O'HERN, GARIBALDI, STEIN, and COLEMAN ...


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