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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 33850
Attorney Name Banik, Stephen J.
DBP Docket No. 78 DB 2007
Supreme Court Docket No. 1263 DD No. 3
County Tioga
Disciplinary Counsel Patti S. Bednarik
Counsel for Respondent William A. Hebe
Decision Date 2007-09-19
Effective Date 2007-10-18
Case Digest On April 11, 2007, Respondent pled guilty to three criminal charges: 1) criminal use of a communication facility, a felony of the third degree; 2) distribution of a small amount of marijuana, a misdemeanor; and 3) possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. The criminal conviction was based on 5 individuals’ grand jury testimony that Respondent used and distributed marijuana on numerous occasions between August 2004 and July 2005. Respondent did not accept money or profit from distributing marijuana. Rather, he shared marijuana with his friends and associates. In determining the appropriate level of discipline, the following mitigating and aggravating factors were taken into account: 1) the conviction involved marijuana rather than a more dangerous illegal drug; 2) Respondent did not profit from distributing the marijuana; 3) Respondent had already received a Public Censure for misconduct unrelated to the use or distribution of illegal drugs; 4) Respondent submitted 8 character letters attesting to his good character, legal abilities and his pro bono activities
Rule Violation(s) 203(b)(1)
Discipline Imposed Suspension of One Year, with 6 months served and six months stayed
Points of Law Although there have been numerous cases in which attorneys have been convicted of possession and/or delivery of cocaine or heroin, the parties were unable to find any comparable cases in which an attorney was convicted of distributing marijuana. Thus, it appears from this case that the distribution of marijuana warrants a less severe sanction than the distribution of cocaine or heroin.
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