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Disobedience of a court order, whether as a legal representative or as a party, demonstrates a lapse of character and a disrespect for the legal system that directly relate to an attorney's fitness to practice law and serve as an officer of the court.
At petitioner Anna Lou Kelley’s initial conviction of driving with a blood-alcohol level in excess of the legal limit, she was given 36 months’ probation. Before the probationary period expired, petitioner was again convicted of driving with a blood-alcohol level in excess of the legal limit. Following an administrative hearing, the Review Department of the State Bar Court recommended that petitioner be publicly reproved and placed on disciplinary probation for three years, with the condition that she not use intoxicants during this period, and that she enroll in the Bar's program on alcohol abuse. Petitioner challenged the recommendation. Petitioner contended that her conduct - a second conviction of driving with a blood-alcohol level exceeding 0.10 percent ( Veh. Code, § 23152, former subd. (b)), constituting a violation of conditions of criminal probation imposed for her first offense -- did not warrant professional discipline because it was both unrelated to her practice of law and not proscribed by any disciplinary rule or statute.
Did petitioner’s conduct warrant professional discipline?
The court accepted the recommendation, rejecting petitioner's claim that the "other misconduct" basis used to discipline attorneys who were not engaged in activities involving moral turpitude or that directly related to the practice of law, was unconstitutionally vague. Though petitioner's activity did not involve the practice of law there was a nexus between it and her fitness to practice law. The court also found that, except for the requirement that petitioner not use intoxicants during the probationary period, the discipline imposed was appropriate to the nature and extent of the misconduct.