A lawyer accused of being intoxicated and disruptive at a Continuing Legal Education program last year has been suspended for six months and ordered to enroll in a two-year treatment and monitoring program.
Witnesses accused Reston attorney Wayne R. Hartke of sleeping and loudly snoring during the morning part of the seminar and then yelling at a video screen during the afternoon session, according to charges brought by a Virginia State Bar panel.
Hartke was led from the seminar room by another attendee, according to the ethics charges brought by a disciplinary subcommittee in September. An observer said he smelled of alcohol and had a bottle of liquor among his belongings, the subcommittee said.
In an interview with a VSB investigator, Hartke denied he had been intoxicated, the panel said.
The VSB Disciplinary Board imposed the six-month suspension at a March 27 hearing, according to a summary order from the board.
Under the board’s terms, Hartke was ordered to enroll in Lawyers Helping Lawyers for two years and comply with all of the organization’s terms and conditions. Any notice of noncompliance would result in an order to show why his license should not be suspended for an additional three years.
Hartke was reprimanded by the VSB in 2010 after settling a legal malpractice lawsuit accusing him of failing to protect the interests of individual directors of a corporate client.
Hartke was reprimanded again in 2011. Among the allegations was a 10-day Fairfax County jail sentence for contempt of court. Hartke’s blood alcohol content was measured at .127 during a court appearance, the VSB order said.
Lawyers Helping Lawyers is a 30-year-old assessment, referral, monitoring and support program helping lawyers address addiction and mental health issues.