Reaves v. People
, No.02PDJ048, 11.19.02. Attorney Regulation.
The Hearing Board reinstated Robert J. Reaves, attorney registration
number 16675, to the practice of law effective December 20, 2002.
THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDING DISCIPLINARY JUDGE
_________________________________________________________ Case Number:
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF COLORADO.
OPINION AND ORDER READMITTING ROBERT J. REAVES
TO THE PRACTICE OF LAW
Opinion issued by a Hearing Board consisting of the Presiding
Disciplinary Judge Roger L. Keithley and Hearing Board Members
Thomas J. Overton and Marilyn L. Robertson, both members of the bar.
ATTORNEY REINSTATED TO THE PRACTICE OF LAW
On September 23, 2002, a reinstatement hearing was held
pursuant to C.R.C.P. 251.29(b) before a Hearing Board consisting of the
Presiding Disciplinary Judge (“PDJ”) and two hearing board members,
Thomas J. Overton and Marilyn L. Robertson, both members of the bar.
George S. Meyer represented Robert J. Reaves (“Reaves”), attorney
registration no. 16675. James C. Coyle, Deputy Attorney Regulation
Counsel, represented the People of the State of Colorado (the “People”).
Patricia Gatewood, C.J. White, Ph.D., Sidney McDaniel, Herb Marcus and
Fred Lopez testified on behalf of Robert Reaves, who also testified on his
own behalf. Exhibits A and D were offered by Reaves and admitted into
The Hearing Board considered the testimony and exhibits
admitted, assessed the credibility of the witnesses, and made the
following findings of fact which were established by clear and convincing
FINDINGS OF FACT
Reaves has taken the oath of admission and was admitted to the
Bar of the State of Colorado on July 7, 1987, and is registered upon the
official records of the Supreme Court under attorney registration no.
16675. Reaves was suspended from the practice of law for a period of six
months by Order of the Supreme Court issued August 18, 1997. The
suspension was effective immediately. People v. Reaves
, 943 P.2d 460
(Colo. 1997). The six-month suspension arose from three convictions
consisting of driving while ability impaired, harassment, and disorderly
conduct arising from two separate domestic violence incidents involving
In the first incident, Reaves was arrested on a domestic violence
charge involving his wife on October 22, 1993. He pled guilty to
harassment, a class 3 misdemeanor, see
§ 18-9-111(1)(a), 8B C.R.S.
(1986). He received a deferred judgment contingent on the completion of
twenty-four months probation and forty-eight hours useful public
service. He was also required to complete a domestic violence evaluation
and required to abide by the evaluator’s recommendations. Reaves
complied with the conditions of the deferred judgment and the matter
In the second incident, on November 27, 1993, Reaves was again
arrested for domestic violence involving his wife. When the police
arrived, Reaves did not answer the door. When the police gained entry
twenty minutes later, Reaves falsely told them that he had been sleeping
for the past two hours and asked them what was going on. He was taken
into custody.2 He pled guilty to disorderly conduct, a class 1 petty
§ 18-9-106(1)(a), 8B C.R.S. (1986), and was placed on
In the third incident, Reaves was arrested on April 10, 1994 for
driving under the influence of alcohol. Reaves pled guilty to driving while
ability impaired and was sentenced to forty-five days in jail, suspended;
twenty-four months probation; forty hours of Level II alcohol education,
and forty-eight hours of useful public service. He was also required to
use antabuse during probation, pay $416 in court costs, attend a victim
impact panel, and regularly participate in the Colorado Lawyer’s Health
Program for attorneys with substance abuse problems.
1 Although Reaves was only suspended for a period of six months, he did not apply for reinstatementwithin the time frame set forth in C.R.C.P. 251.29(B).
2 The Complaint did not charge Reaves with a violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(c) for attempting to deceive thepolice.
With regard to each of the above convictions, Reaves stipulated
that his conduct constituted separate violations of Colo. RPC 8.4(b)(it is
professional misconduct for a lawyer to commit a criminal act that
reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a
lawyer) and C.R.C.P. 241.6(5)(any act or omission which violates the
criminal laws of this state or any other state, or of the United States shall
constitute grounds for discipline).3 Reaves stipulated that his failure to
report each of the three convictions in writing within ten days of the
conviction to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel 4 constituted a violation
of C.R.C.P. 241.16(b)(Every lawyer subject to these Rules, upon being
convicted of a crime . . . shall notify the Disciplinary Counsel in writing of
such conviction within ten days after the date of the conviction).5
Reaves was ordered to pay costs of the disciplinary proceeding within
thirty days of the date of the opinion. Reaves,
943 P.2d at 463.
Following his suspension in August 1997, Reaves worked as a
teacher with neglected and delinquent juvenile offenders and children
with behavior disorders at Denver Children’s Home and Mountview
Youth Detention Center. He taught literacy and life skills to at-risk
Reaves has been teaching eighth grade social studies to students
at Martin Luther King for the last two years, and has consistently
received outstanding teacher evaluations. Additionally, C.J. White, Ph.D,
Chairman of the African-American Studies Department at Metropolitan
State College employed Reaves as a part-time Adjunct Professor in that
department, primarily in the areas of African-American studies and
history. As indicative of his trust in Reaves, White asked Reaves to work
as an appointed consultant/speaker to the community representing the
African-American Studies Department at Metropolitan State College.
Sydney R. McDaniel, a CAC III Alcohol and Drug Counselor for the
State of Colorado, confirmed that Reaves has abstained from the use of
alcohol for many years, that he is in remission and has abstained from
any use of alcohol for over eight years with no relapses.
Since the incidents giving rise to his suspension, there have been
no further instances of domestic violence. Reaves attributed the
domestic violence events as resulting directly from his alcohol abuse and
anger control. His recovery is founded on anger management education,
3 C.R.C.P. 241.6 was replaced by C.R.C.P. 251.4 effective January 1, 1999.
4 Effective January 1, 1999, Disciplinary Counsel was designated as the Office of Attorney RegulationCounsel. See
5 C.R.C.P. 241,16 was replaced by C.R.C.P. 251.20 effective January 1, 1999.
domestic abuse counseling, alcohol counseling, and his sustained
sobriety. He has successfully rebuilt his marriage.
Reaves has remained current in the law by taking Continuing Legal
Education courses. He has completed a total of forty-seven general and
eight ethics credits since November 1999. For approximately an eighteen
month period, Reaves performed paralegal services for an attorney who
found Reaves to be competent and thorough. While performing paralegal
activities, Reaves drafted pleadings and performed research.
Fred Lopez, an attorney with the Public Defender’s office for the
Aurora Municipal Court who had supervised Reaves prior to his
suspension, held Reaves’s lawyering skills in high regard. While under
Lopez’s supervision, Reaves was known as a skilled trial lawyer who was
always prompt and prepared. Lopez stated that he would be willing to
During the course of the reinstatement hearing, the People
stipulated that Reaves had substantially complied with the terms and
conditions of the matters giving rise to his suspension, with all
disciplinary orders, and with all of the requirements for reinstatement
under C.R.C.P. 251.29. The People stipulated to Reaves’ reinstatement.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Initiation of the reinstatement process begins with the submission
of a Petition for Reinstatement. C.R.C.P. 251.29 provides in part:
(b) An attorney who has been suspended for a period longer
than one year must file a petition with the Presiding
Disciplinary Judge for reinstatement and must prove by
clear and convincing evidence that the attorney has been
rehabilitated, has complied with all applicable disciplinary
orders and with all provisions of this chapter, and is fit to
C.R.C.P. 251.29(c) requires that the attorney’s Petition for
(3) The facts other than passage of time and absence of
additional misconduct upon which the petitioning attorney
relies to establish that the attorney possesses all of the
qualifications required of applicants for admission to the Bar
of Colorado, fully considering the previous disciplinary action
(4) Evidence of compliance with all applicable disciplinary
orders and with all provisions of this Chapter regarding
(5) Evidence of efforts to maintain professional competence
through continuing legal education or otherwise during the
The attorney seeking reinstatement must establish the three
elements set forth in the rule by clear and convincing evidence. See
C.R.C.P. 251.29(d). Thus, an attorney who desires reinstatement after
suspension must bear the burden of proving that he or she is: (1)
rehabilitated; (2) has complied with all applicable disciplinary orders and
all provisions of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure relating to attorney
discipline regarding actions required of suspended attorneys, and (3) is
fit to practice law. All three of the elements of proof must be established
before reinstatement may be authorized. Goff v. People
, 35 P.3d 487,
Additionally, certain criteria must be considered in reinstatement
proceedings in order to evaluate an attorney’s rehabilitation. In People v.
, 756 P.2d 1013 (Colo. 1988), the Supreme Court set forth criteria
which must be considered in reinstatement proceedings in order to
evaluate an attorney’s rehabilitation. Klein requires:
Any determination of that issue [rehabilitation] must include
consideration of numerous factors bearing on the petitioner’s
state of mind and professional ability, including character,
conduct since the imposition of the original discipline,
professional competence, candor and sincerity, present
business pursuits, personal and community service, and the
petitioner’s recognition of the seriousness of his previous
The Hearing Board accepted the People’s stipulation that Reaves
has substantially complied with all applicable disciplinary orders and all
provisions of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure relating to attorney
discipline. The stipulation establishes that portion of the three-part
6 This subsection incorporates the concept that neither the passage of time nor the
absence of additional misconduct, standing alone, is sufficient to establish
rehabilitation. See In re Sharpe
, 499 P.2d 406, 409 (Okla. 1972).
reinstatement test and the requirements imposed by C.R.C.P.
Reaves’s prior disciplinary matter arose from three convictions,
driving while ability impaired and two separate incidents of domestic
violence. All three of the episodes reveal character deficits present at the
time the events transpired. Reaves acknowledges that his character
deficits emerged as a result of his alcohol abuse.
In an effort to understand the underlying reasons for his behavior,
Reaves has sought professional evaluation and counseling. Reaves
served twenty-four months probation including required use of antabuse,
performed forty-eight hours useful public service, completed a domestic
violence evaluation, completed forty hours of Level II alcohol education,
attended a victim impact panel, regularly participated in the Colorado
Lawyer’s Health Program for attorneys with substance abuse problems,
and paid the costs ordered by the court. As a result of these activities he
had successfully maintained his marriage with no further incidents of
Reaves candidly recognizes the seriousness of his previous
misconduct, and has actively taken numerous steps to prevent its
reoccurrence. Understanding that alcohol was the root of his problem,
Reaves has undertaken therapy and classes for his alcohol addiction. He
has had no recurrences of alcohol use during the last eight years.
Reaves has remained current in his study of the law through legal
education courses, and, though his work as a paralegal, demonstrated
competence in the practice of law. His prior supervisor spoke highly of
his professional competence and confirmed that he would offer Reaves a
position as an attorney once he was reinstated. More important than the
opinion of those for whom he has worked, however, is Reaves’s own
Reaves’s willingness to counsel at-risk youth and share with them
his own mistakes is strong evidence of his genuine understanding of his
prior misconduct and real character change. During his suspension,
Reaves contributed to the community by renewing his Colorado teacher’s
license and teaching middle school at Martin Luther King Jr. High
School. He also taught neglected and delinquent juvenile offenders at
the Denver Children’s Home and Mountview Youth Center. Reaves has
continued teaching students as a part-time faculty member in the
African-American Studies Department at Metropolitan State College. In
that capacity, Reaves also performs community service by community
outreach in his appointed role as representative of the African-American
Reaves expressed sincere remorse for his actions resulting in the
underlying disciplinary proceeding, is committed to remaining substance
free, and is committed to contributing to society through the practice of
Under the factors set forth in Klein
, 756 P.2d at 1016, and Goff
P.3d at 494, and the requirements of C.R.C.P. 251.29, Reaves
established by clear and convincing evidence that he is rehabilitated, has
complied with all applicable disciplinary orders and all provisions of the
Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure relating to attorney discipline, and is fit
Recognizing that recurrence of substance abuse is an ever-present
possibility among those addicted to substances, Reaves’s reinstatement
to the practice of law is expressly conditioned upon his abstinence from
and non-prescription drug use for a period of twelve months. See
III. ORDER OF REINSTATEMENT
ROBERT J. REAVES, attorney registration number 16675 is
reinstated to the practice of law effective thirty-one days from the
date of this order subject to the following conditions:
1. Reaves shall abstain from all alcohol and non-prescription drug
use for a period of twelve months. In the event the Office of
Attorney Regulation Counsel becomes aware that Reaves has
violated this condition, the reinstatement order shall be subject
to revocation upon motion of the People.
2. Reaves shall pay all the costs of the reinstatement proceeding.
The People shall file a Statement of Costs or Notice that costs
have been paid within fifteen (15) days of the date of this Order.
Petitioner shall have five (5) days thereafter to file a Response.
DATED THIS 19th DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2002.
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