Lawyer in trouble for being high on cocaine in court and insisting it "enhances his performance"

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.