NEW MEXICO: You never want to get a rookie lawyer to handle your DWI case but what about one who stumbles into the courtroom drunk himself? That’s what John Wayne Higgins did and that indiscretion landed him in jail.
Higgins, who specializes in DWI law, had business in the courthouse but went to the wrong courtroom. The 69-year-old attorney’s blood alcohol content measured at .11 percent. The level for intoxication in New Mexico is .08 percent.
Albuquerque Metropolitan Court Judge Julie Altwies said that Higgins was in contempt for disrupting the proceedings. She called probation officers after Higgins apparently stumbled getting up. Attorney Tom Clear, who witnessed the incident, said that Higgins had visited another room prior to disturbing Altweis’ courtroom, but that he did not remember doing so. Higgins had been scheduled to appear at two hearings two floors below. “He wasn’t making a lot of sense,” Clear said.
This isn’t the first time Higgins’ alcohol consumption has landed him on the other side of the law. In 2009, Higgins spent 48 hours in jail after being convicted of aggravated DWI. That time his intoxicated exchange with police officers was captured on police cameras.
I knew defense attorneys who had substance abuse problems. Jimmy comes to mind. He was immaculately dressed, wore bow ties and stank of alcohol, even in the mornings before the first case was called. He never slurred, he never stumbled and but for the alcohol on his breath and red eyes, one might not even suspect anything was wrong. He was always a thin man but over the years, his appearance grew more willowy and gaunt. He had withered into an old man long before his time. Everyone knew Jimmy had “a problem,” but no one wanted to say he was an alcoholic. Co-workers who witnessed his deterioration urged superiors to do something. They did. Counseling for Jimmy was all I’d heard about. As his drinking “problem” grew, his superiors grew more impatient. He was suspended a few times and then ultimately fired. He had lost his wife, his children, his home and finally his job. I knew then that it was only a matter of time. Within a year of his firing, I’d heard that Jimmy was found dead in a tiny, barren apartment.
To Higgins I say, get help. To Jimmy, may you rest in peace.
(Source: The Huffington Post)
- Attorney allegedly drunk in courtroom (krqe.com)
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