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MISSISSIPPI STATE BAR v. JOSEPH PATRICK GAUTIER

FEBRUARY 01, 1989

MISSISSIPPI STATE BAR
v.
JOSEPH PATRICK GAUTIER



EN BANC:

PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This opinion seeks to address a societal problem of monumental proportions. The misuse of chemical substances is a perplex problem that is affecting the legal profession as it is other facets of our society. This Court is asked to address the problem within our profession with the view of protecting both the integrity of the bench and bar as well as the clients and constituents that they serve.

Joseph Patrick Gautier, a 40 year old disbarred attorney and the petitioner herein, seeks reinstatement as an attorney in good standing in the Mississippi State Bar pursuant to Rule 12 of the Rules of Discipline of the Mississippi State Bar, adopted January 1, 1984 by this Court. The counter part of this rule is found in Miss. Code Ann. 73-3-337 (Supp. 1987). Such authority to reinstate a disbarred attorney upon conditions rests in this Court. Phillips v. Mississippi State Bar, 427 S. 2d 1380 (Miss. 1983). William F. Randle v. Mississippi State Bar (Conf. Misc. No. 136) (entered in Minute Book BW 1-25-84).

 The petitioner pled guilty in the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi, to the charge of possession of cocaine in violation of Miss. Code Ann. 41-29-139 (Supp. 1983). For this conviction, Gautier was sentenced to a three (3) year term in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, suspended upon completion of Lifemark Program *fn1 and confession of disbarment. That crime is among the types of offenses contemplated by Rule 6 of the Rules of Discipline of the Mississippi State Bar to be conclusive evidence as to petitioner's guilt, and Joseph Patrick Gautier was so disbarred on April 12, 1984. The petition for reinstatement is filed more than three years after the petitioner's disbarment on April 12, 1984, in accordance with Rule 12.1 of the Rules of Discipline.

 II.

 Seeking reinstatement, the petitioner alleges: (a) that there is no injured party to whom restitution is owed, (b) that he has studied the Rules of Professional Conduct effective July 1, 1987, and attended a continuing legal education seminar, (c) that he has submitted himself to an in-patient and out-patient treatment center for drug

 addiction and has had a continuing relationship with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous for the last three years, and (d) filed his $500.00 investigatory fee to the Mississippi State Bar. The jurisdictional requirements of Rule 12.7 of the Rules of Discipline have been met.

 Attached to his petition are letters of recommendations from his friends, employers, attorneys, pastors, public officials, and a work history since disbarment.

 III.

 An Answer was first filed by the legal counsel for the Mississippi State Bar agreeing in the correctness of the facts of disbarment, but asserting that it had insufficient information to admit the allegations of the petitioner's rehabilitation, and therefore denying the same. (Rule of Discipline 12.8).

 However, by a subsequent Amended Answer, the Mississippi State Bar through its Board of Bar Commissioners, suggested certain other affirmative matters that led the Mississippi State Bar to oppose reinstatement of the petitioner to the practice of law. The appointment of a Master or Tribunal was suggested to this Court by the Board of Bar Commissioners to hear and consider the issue of reinstatement. The petitioner Gautier also sought the convening of a tribunal appointed by this Court for the purpose of testimony and proof if the Board of Bar Commissioners disagreed with the requested reinstatement of petitioner.

 IV.

 Rule 12 of the Rules of Discipline for the Mississippi State Bar adopted September 7, 1983, effective from and after January 1, 1984, controls the procedure of this request. Rule 12 provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

 (12.8) Board of Bar Commissioners. Upon receipt of the reinstatement petition, the (Mississippi Supreme) Court shall allow the Board of Bar Commissioners a reasonable time to conduct an investigation and answer the petition. After filing of pleadings or notice on behalf of the Bar, the proceeding shall continue, if necessary or desirable, as the (Mississippi Supreme) Court may direct and the (Mississippi ...


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