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In the Matter of

May 5, 2011

IN THE MATTER OF JAMES ALLEN TEEL, A MEMBER OF THE STATE BAR, NO. 150696.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Purcell, J.

PUBLIC MATTER - NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

I. STATEMENT OF THE CASE

From 1999 to 2006, James Allen Teel committed acts that led to several criminal convictions, including two offenses for driving under the influence (DUI). These convictions were referred to the State Bar and the Supreme Court imposed a two-year stayed suspension subject to five years' probation with conditions, including several relating to substance abuse. In April 2010, the Office of Probation (Probation) instituted revocation proceedings alleging that Teel failed to comply with three conditions: (1) timely submitting proof of attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings; (2) providing proof of compliance with his criminal probation requirements; and (3) participating in random drug and alcohol testing. The hearing judge found Teel culpable of violating all three conditions. In aggravation, the State Bar proved two factors - a prior record of discipline and multiple acts of misconduct. Teel proved no mitigation, but most violations were minor and he made continued efforts to comply with his probation. The hearing judge recommended a 60-day actual suspension subject to a new two-year stayed suspension and a new five-year probation period.

Teel seeks review contending that: (1) the State Bar Office of Probation (Probation) lacked jurisdiction to institute probation revocation proceedings; (2) the probation conditions were unconstitutional; (3) he did not willfully violate any probation conditions; and (4) a 60-day actual suspension is not warranted. The State Bar did not seek review but requests that we recommend suspending Teel for two years, which is the duration of his stayed suspension.

II. ISSUES ON REVIEW

After independently reviewing the record (Cal. Rules of Court, rule 9.12) and considering the parties' briefs on review, the questions before us are:

1. Is Probation authorized to institute probation revocation proceedings against Teel?

2. Did the probation conditions violate due process as vague and overbroad?

3. Did Teel willfully violate the charged probation conditions?

4. If Teel is culpable, should he be actually suspended for 60 days?

III. SUMMARY OF THE DECISION

Probation properly instituted revocation proceedings against Teel. Upon the evidence presented at that proceeding, the hearing judge correctly found that Teel had violated his probation conditions, which were neither vague nor overbroad. Consequently, the hearing judge revoked Teel's probation and imposed discipline. Although two violations were minor, the third - failing to take a random drug and alcohol test - was more serious because it monitors Teel's sobriety following two DUI convictions. By failing to test, Teel has prevented such monitoring. We conclude that a 60-day actual suspension is necessary both to impress upon Teel that he must fulfill his probation conditions and ultimately to protect the public, the courts and the legal profession.

IV. BACKGROUND

Teel was admitted to practice law in California in 1990. He has one prior discipline record, which was imposed after he was convicted of the following crimes:

Statutory Violation

Penal Code § 243(e)(1)

Penal Code § 166(c)(1)

Vehicle Code § 23152(a)

Penal Code § 273(a)(b)

Penal Code § 166(4)

Vehicle Code § 23152(a)/(b)*fn1 Penal Code §§ 240/242

Criminal Conduct Violation Date

Battery against spouse/cohabitant 2/18/99

Contempt of court/ 4/29/01

violation of protective order

DUI 3/22/02

Child endangerment

2nd contempt of court/

violation of ...


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