September 18, 1990
Digest: A judge should initiate appropriate disciplinary measures against an attorney who repeatedly appears in his or her court in an intoxicated condition.
Rules: 22 NYCRR §100.3(b)(3).
A part-time judge has asked this Committee about the existence of any ethical obligation in the situation where an attorney regularly appears in court intoxicated, abusive, and unprepared. The judge has admonished the attorney on several occasions.
Section 100.3(b)(3) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides as follows:
A judge shall take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures against a judge or lawyer for unprofessional conduct of which the judge may become aware.
Under the circumstances, the judge should report the attorney to the local disciplinary committee or to the state bar or other body or officer having jurisdiction, so that the attorney may be offered assistance with the alcohol problem, and be disciplined if warranted, under the circumstances. Indeed, the New York State Bar Association recently has instituted a program to assist attorneys who are impaired by alcohol or drug abuse.