The D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility, the arm of the D.C. Court of Appeals that handles lawyer discipline, has recommended that cocaine addiction not be treated as a mitigating factor in ethics cases.

The BPR’s recommendation came in a sharply worded 13-page brief in a case involving a lawyer who used the proceeds of a personal injury settlement check to buy cocaine, then concealed his actions from the client and bar counsel. If found liable, the lawyer could be disbarred. But he is arguing that the court should impose a lesser punishment because he stole the client’s money as a direct result of cocaine addiction.

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