LITTLE ROCK — The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a decision by the court's Committee on Professional Conduct to reprimand, but not suspend, a Little Rock lawyer who was found guilty of possession of methamphetamine.
LITTLE ROCK — The state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a decision by the court’s Committee on Professional Conduct to reprimand, but not suspend, a Little Rock lawyer who was found guilty of possession of methamphetamine.
James Clouette was walking through the lobby of a bank on March 27, 2009, when he dropped a small plastic bag containing meth. In a November 2009 bench trial in Pulaski County Circuit Court, he was found guilty of possessing meth and was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $150.
The Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct initially cautioned Clouette in June 2010. The committee’s executive director, Stark Ligon, thought the decision was too lenient and appealed it to the state Supreme Court, which agreed and overturned the sanction in February 2011. Cautions are reserved for “lesser conduct,” the high court noted then.
The committee reconsidered the case and voted in April to issue a reprimand, a more serious sanction than a caution, and imposed a two-year probation.
Ligon also appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, arguing that it was still too lenient and that the committee should have suspended Clouette’s law license.
In its unanimous opinion Thursday upholding the committee’s decision, the high court said Clouette has been drug-tested weekly since May 2009 and has never tested positive, has complied with all of the terms of his probation and has no prior disciplinary record.
“There was also no evidence presented of any instance in which Clouette’s misconduct negatively impacted his representation of a client,” Justice Jim Gunter wrote in the opinion, adding that the Supreme Court found in its previous ruling that Clouette had not caused “damage to the public’s confidence in the legal profession.”