In re Blake, SCBD No. 6237.

CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation2016 OK 33,371 P.3d 465
Docket NumberSCBD No. 6237.
Decision Date22 March 2016
PartiesIn the Matter of the REINSTATEMENT OF Glen Joseph BLAKE, to Membership in the Oklahoma Bar Association and to the Roll of Attorneys.

371 P.3d 465
2016 OK 33

In the Matter of the REINSTATEMENT OF Glen Joseph BLAKE, to Membership in the Oklahoma Bar Association and to the Roll of Attorneys.

SCBD No. 6237.

Supreme Court of Oklahoma.

March 22, 2016.


Sheila J. Naifeh, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Petitioner.

Debbie Maddox, Oklahoma Bar Association, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:

¶ 1 The petitioner, Glen Joseph Blake, filed a petition requesting reinstatement as a member of the Oklahoma Bar Association. Blake voluntarily resigned from the OBA during the pendency of disciplinary proceedings. Having found the petition supported by clear and convincing evidence, we issue an order granting reinstatement. We further sustain the OBA's application for assessment of costs in the amount of $22.40, and direct Petitioner Blake to pay the same within thirty (30) days of this opinion.

Facts and Procedural History

¶ 2 Blake graduated from the University of Tulsa College of Law in May of 2000. He was admitted to the OBA on September 25, 2000. Prior to attending law school, Blake battled with drug and alcohol addiction. In the early 1990's, Blake was arrested on two occasions for alcohol-related offenses. In 1994, he sought professional help through a drug treatment facility. Blake successfully maintained his sobriety until approximately 2003, when he began using prescription pain medication for an abscessed tooth. His use of pain medicine evolved into a full relapse. He transitioned from pain medicine to alcohol, and later progressed to methamphetamine use and addiction.

¶ 3 In June of 2007, Blake was arrested by the Tulsa County Sheriff during his attempted sale of methamphetamine to a confidential informant. He was subsequently charged with one felony count of trafficking in illegal drugs in violation of 63 O.S. 2–415(B).1 On March 17, 2008, Blake entered a blind plea of guilty to the trafficking charge. Judge William Kellough sentenced him to a term six years imprisonment with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

¶ 4 On February 15, 2008, Blake submitted an affidavit of resignation pending disciplinary proceedings to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.2 We approved Blake's resignation by an order entered on June 17, 2008. Although Blake failed to timely file the affidavit required by Rule 9.1 of the Oklahoma Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings, 5 O.S.2011,

371 P.3d 468

ch. 1, app. 1–A, he eventually filed the affidavit on April 30, 2015.

¶ 5 Blake was released from prison on parole in June 2010. Blake's criminal sentence required him to complete a number of community service hours. He began satisfying the community service obligation by working in the Tulsa County Public Defender's office. Initially, Blake performed primarily clerical tasks; however, he later worked as a paralegal, assisting with investigations and case preparation. After concluding his community service in December of 2010, Blake was offered a position with the Public Defender.3 Testimony presented to the Professional Responsibility Tribunal detailed Blake's duties with the Public Defender's office. His responsibilities included conducting client interviews at the jail, preparation of client files, and assisting attorneys with general clerical and investigative work. Blake also conducted legal research, drafted motions, and provided support to attorneys during court proceedings. All of this work was performed on behalf of and under the direct supervision of licensed attorneys. According to Blake, he always informed clients that he was not a licensed attorney. He emphatically denied offering legal advice or engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. Tulsa County Public Defender, Rob Nigh, praised Blake's work-ethic and noted his intention to offer him a job as an attorney, conditioned on reinstatement.

¶ 6 On February 12, 2015, Blake filed a petition seeking reinstatement as a member of the OBA. A hearing was held before the PRT, and the panel unanimously recommended Blake be reinstated. In accordance with RGDP Rules 11.4 and 11.5, the PRT issued a report on September 23, 2015 with the following findings: (1) Blake filed a petition seeking reinstatement with the OBA; (2) Blake complied with all procedural rules delineated in the RGDP for reinstatement inquiries; (3) Blake demonstrated, by clear and convincing evidence, that he possesses the requisite good moral character for re-admission to the OBA; (4) Blake established by clear and convincing evidence that he has not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in the State of Oklahoma; and (5) Blake completed 46.5 hours of MCLE in calendar years 2014 and 2015. However, the PRT Report did not address whether Blake possessed the requisite “competency and learning in the law” and whether he was exempt from retaking the bar examination, as required by RGDP Rule 11.5(c).4

¶ 7 Following entry of the PRT Report, Blake filed his brief in support of reinstatement. The OBA waived its right to submit an answer brief in this cause, but acknowledged support for Blake's reinstatement.

Standard of Review

¶ 8 Reinstatement matters are initially conducted before the PRT. The panel is obligated to provide this Court with a detailed summary of their factual and legal determinations. See RGDP Rules 11.3 –11.5. A report from the PRT is required to include specific determinations regarding whether: 1) the petitioner possesses the good moral character which would entitle him to be admitted to the Bar Association; 2) the petitioner has not engaged in the unauthorized practice of law during the period of suspension; and 3) the petitioner possesses the competency and learning required for admission to the practice of law. In re Reinstatement of Pacenza, 2009 OK 9, ¶ 9, 204 P.3d 58, 62. Failure to establish any of these essential

371 P.3d 469

prerequisites necessitates denial of reinstatement. Any recommendations of the PRT are merely advisory and the panel's conclusions are not binding. In re Reinstatement of Kerr, 2015 OK 9, ¶ 6, 345 P.3d 1118, 1121. This Court conducts a review of PRT findings by “exercise[ing] independently its original jurisdiction and appl[ying] a de novo standard of review.” In re Reinstatement of Hird, 2008 OK 25, ¶ 3, 184 P.3d 535, 537. We are vested with a nondelegable, constitutional duty to regulate the practice of law. In re Reinstatement of Mumina, 2009 OK 76, ¶ 7, 225 P.3d 804, 808. Our primary objectives when weighing an attorney's request for reinstatement are protecting the public and maintaining confidence in the OBA. In re Reinstatement of Page, 2004 OK 49, ¶ 3, 94 P.3d 80, 82.

¶ 9 Additionally, RGDP Rule 11.4 provides “[a]n applicant for reinstatement must establish affirmatively that, if readmitted or if the suspension from practice is removed, the applicant's conduct will conform to the high standards required of a member of the Bar.” An attorney seeking reinstatement “bears the heavy burden of showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that reinstatement is warranted.” In re Reinstatement of Page, ¶ 2, 94 P.3d at 81. Applicants must present stronger proof of meeting admission standards than an individual seeking to join the OBA for the first time. In re Reinstatement of Otis, 2007 OK 82, ¶ 7, 175 P.3d 357, 361. When evaluating a bid for readmission to the OBA, this Court weighs certain factors, including but not limited to: 1) the applicant's present moral fitness; 2) demonstrated consciousness of the conduct's wrongfulness and the disrepute it has brought upon the legal profession; 3) the extent of rehabilitation; 4) the original misconduct's seriousness; 5) conduct after resignation; 6) time elapsed since the resignation; 7) the applicant's character, maturity, and experience when suspended; and 8) present legal competence. In re Reinstatement of Pacenza, ¶ 9, 204 P.3d at 62. Every reinstatement proceeding must be evaluated and decided on a case-by-case basis, with each result dependent on the particular facts and circumstances. Id.

Analysis

¶ 10 The record before this Court reflects that Blake was charged and convicted of a very serious felony—trafficking methamphetamine. It is equally clear that Blake has battled with drug and alcohol addiction throughout his life. There is little doubt Blake's substance abuse was the catalyst behind his felony drug conviction. Since being released from incarceration, he has taken great strides toward rehabilitation. Blake has worked diligently to maintain his sobriety and acknowledged the gravity of his wrongdoing. These things were firmly established in the hearing before the PRT.

Felony Conviction

¶ 11 It is necessary to evaluate Blake's felony conviction and determine if the criminal act should preclude reinstatement to the OBA. Our prior decisions have held that a felony conviction alone will not prevent reinstatement to the OBA. In re Reinstatement of Seelye, 2005 OK 34, ¶ 4, 115 P.3d 836, 839 ; In re Reinstatement of Page, ¶ 3, 94 P.3d at 82. Nevertheless, the more severe an offense, the heavier burden an applicant must overcome to gain reinstatement. Id. Although this Court applauds...

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7 practice notes
  • Reinstatement of Janet Bickel Hutson to Membership in the Okla. Bar Ass'n v. Okla. Bar Ass'n, Case Number: SCBD-6672
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • April 30, 2019
    ...separate criminal cases, a majority of which were related to alcohol abuse was reinstated eleven years after suspension.); In re Blake, 2016 OK 33, ¶23, 371 P.3d 465 (Attorney charged with felony count of trafficking illegal drugs [methamphetamine] reinstated eight years after suspension an......
  • Hutson v. Okla. Bar Ass'n (In re Hutson), SCBD# 6672
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • February 4, 2020
    ...separate criminal cases, a majority of which were related to alcohol abuse was reinstated eleven years after suspension.); In re Blake, 2016 OK 33, ¶23, 371 P.3d 465 (Attorney charged with felony count of trafficking illegal drugs [methamphetamine] reinstated eight years after suspension an......
  • State v. Hastings, Case Number: SCBD-6261
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • April 16, 2017
    ...demonstrate that he still possesses the requisite learning in the law required for competent practice. See In re Reinstatement of Blake, 2016 OK 33, ¶9, 371 P.3d 465; In re Reinstatement of Page, 2004 OK 49, ¶2, 94 P.3d 80(noting petitioners seeking reinstatement possess "the heavy burden o......
  • State ex rel. Okla. Bar Ass'n v. Hastings, Case Number: SCBD-6261
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • May 16, 2017
    ...demonstrate that he still possesses the requisite learning in the law required for competent practice. See In re Reinstatement of Blake , 2016 OK 33, ¶9, 371 P.3d 465 ; In re Reinstatement of Page , 2004 OK 49, ¶2, 94 P.3d 80 (noting petitioners seeking reinstatement possess "the heavy burd......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Reinstatement of Janet Bickel Hutson to Membership in the Okla. Bar Ass'n v. Okla. Bar Ass'n, Case Number: SCBD-6672
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • April 30, 2019
    ...separate criminal cases, a majority of which were related to alcohol abuse was reinstated eleven years after suspension.); In re Blake, 2016 OK 33, ¶23, 371 P.3d 465 (Attorney charged with felony count of trafficking illegal drugs [methamphetamine] reinstated eight years after suspension an......
  • Hutson v. Okla. Bar Ass'n (In re Hutson), SCBD# 6672
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • February 4, 2020
    ...separate criminal cases, a majority of which were related to alcohol abuse was reinstated eleven years after suspension.); In re Blake, 2016 OK 33, ¶23, 371 P.3d 465 (Attorney charged with felony count of trafficking illegal drugs [methamphetamine] reinstated eight years after suspension an......
  • State v. Hastings, Case Number: SCBD-6261
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • April 16, 2017
    ...demonstrate that he still possesses the requisite learning in the law required for competent practice. See In re Reinstatement of Blake, 2016 OK 33, ¶9, 371 P.3d 465; In re Reinstatement of Page, 2004 OK 49, ¶2, 94 P.3d 80(noting petitioners seeking reinstatement possess "the heavy burden o......
  • State ex rel. Okla. Bar Ass'n v. Hastings, Case Number: SCBD-6261
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • May 16, 2017
    ...demonstrate that he still possesses the requisite learning in the law required for competent practice. See In re Reinstatement of Blake , 2016 OK 33, ¶9, 371 P.3d 465 ; In re Reinstatement of Page , 2004 OK 49, ¶2, 94 P.3d 80 (noting petitioners seeking reinstatement possess "the heavy burd......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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