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OKC Attorney Admits Prior Alcholism, Reinstated After Five Years

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has reinstated the law license of an Oklahoma City attorney who gave up his license in 2007. Brett Sanger was under investigation for five counts of professional misconduct when he surrendered his license, including allegations surrounding his 2005 arrest for driving while intoxicated, transporting a firearm while intoxicated and providing liquor to a minor. [1][2][3]

In its unanimous decision to reinstate Sanger’s license, the court cited his testimony before a three member trial panel of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Professional Responsibility Tribunal that his early misconduct was the result of long-term alcoholism. Since surrendering his license, Sanger had completed a 90-day inpatient alcoholism treatment program at Clay Crossing Foundation in Maud, Ok. Since that time, he has “maintained uninterrupted and total sobriety,” the court found.

Sanger currently attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and is active in Lawyers Helping Lawyers, a bar association program that helps attorneys “having difficulties that adversely affect their practice.” The Supreme Court opinion says recently worked in the oil and gas industry and as a law clerk for the Barnes and Lewis law firm in Oklahoma City. An online resume lists Sanger as one of two “team members” at Surge Energy Technologies, which provides land-related services to the oil and gas industry.

The Supreme Court’s reinstatement opinion states that Sanger expressed remorse for his prior conduct. Besides his arrest for driving while intoxicated, the charges for which he was suspended during investigation included allegations that he

  •  * failed to complete a probate matter for one client,
  • * neglected another client in a criminal matter that resulted in a civil claim and default judgement against Sanger for recovery of client fee but that he did not report the judgement as required,
  • * was suspended from practice before the IRS in 2006 but did not report the suspension as required to the Bar Association,
  • * had an inappropriate relationship with a client, engaging in business transactions without advising her to seek independent legal advice, then instructed her to lie under oath during a deposition, assisted her in committing insurance fraud, forged her name on real estate transactions and used her checking account to avoid creditors.

Included in the first charge listed in the 2006 Bar Association disciplinary action, is an allegation that Sanger faked signatures on Alcoholics Anonymous attendance records submitted to the Bar Association’s Office of General Council. Though that disciplinary action listed only one instance of driving while intoxicated, online court records indicate three prior driving while intoxicated arrests two Oklahoma County in 1999 [1], [2] and another [3] in Logan County in 2003, all of which resulted in convictions or deferred sentences under plea agreements.

The April, 2007 order approving Sanger’s surrender of his law license prohibited him from re-applying for a law license within five years.

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