An attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania may be suspended from practicing law for being high on cocaine during a client's court hearing. The lawyer, Nathaniel Strasser, admitted to be on blow in court and apparently claimed in a disciplinary hearing that the drug improves his performance on the job.
According to a brief filed by the state's Office of Disciplinary Counsel that investigates attorney misconduct, Strasser's "refusal to express remorse for appearing at a hearing on a client's behalf while under the influence of cocaine — and his suggestion throughout the disciplinary hearing in this matter that cocaine enhances his performance as an attorney — presents an unacceptable risk that Respondent (Strasser) will repeat this intolerable misconduct."
A police officer at Strasser's client's hearing noticed that Strasser was exhibiting "very hyperactive, fidgety" behavior and had dilated pupils, so he reported him.
The disciplinary counsel is calling for a minimum one-year suspension. Next step is for the panel holding the hearing to make a disciplinary recommendation to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
From Go Erie:
The panel said Strasser represented a client despite being mentally or physically unable to do so, and said he had committed a criminal act "that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects."
The court hearing at which Strasser was high occurred on Nov. 2, 2022. It was a preliminary hearing in the courtroom of District Judge Lisa Ferrick in Harborcreek Township.
Strasser was working as a part-time assistant public defender for Erie County and was representing a woman who was charged with driving under the influence of a controlled substance, according to records filed in Strasser's disciplinary case. Strasser also has his own law office.