As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I abhor the epidemic of drug abuse that seems to have swept this country and my profession over the last few decades. While it may seem a bit out of character for a libertarian conservative like me, I must wholeheartedly endorse this recent development. I know some won’t like it, but It was a necessary step In the right direction.
As reported in The Docket, the Journal of the Denver Bar Association,
- As members of a highly regulated profession, lawyers must act in the utmost ethical manner at all times, even in matters beyond their professional duties. Accordingly, the Colorado Legislature recently passed a series of bills that adds more regulatory requirements for attorneys and other professionals.
House Bill 0401 addresses the substance abuse rates for attorneys, in light of recent “medical” marijuana rulings. Legislators approved mandatory drug testing for attorneys licensed in the State of Colorado. Citing the “growing trend of substance abuse” and the need for “attorneys to represent their clients, particularly in the Colorado court system, with the utmost professional care and coherency,” the measure requires that all licensed attorneys submit to random drug testing.
To get the program underway all attorneys representing clients in Colorado courts must submit to random urine tests at the courthouse where they practice. An emergency appropriation of $1 Million a year will allow for a new, part-time position in each courthouse in Colorado for an “attorney substance abuse specialist” who will be working two days per week to collect urine samples from attorneys to test for illegal drugs. In order to prevent attorneys from scheduling hearings on days when the abuse specialist is not working their 2-day schedule will be randomly changed each week by using the same courthouse software system that randomly assigns new cases to particular judges.
In order to include the large number of transactional attorneys who rarely if ever appear in court a “Professional Substance Control Office” will be established in the State Supreme Court chambers where transactional attorneys will be summoned randomly by an automated cell-phone call directing them to immediately appear for urine testing, much the same that undercover detectives in many police departments are already required to do.
Complaints are already being raised, claiming such things as invasion of privacy and that the whole idea is ridiculous. The Colorado Bar Association and the various local bars have reluctantly endorsed these new rules as an unfortunate necessity to enable the profession to continue to uphold its high standards in this climate of substance abuse and dependency
The new rules go into effect on April 1st.