On Tuesday, October 17, 2023, the Supreme Court of Oklahoma suspended Attorney James Darrell Reedy for drunk driving resulting in manslaughter.

The case is titled “Oklahoma Bar Association v. James Darrell Reedy,” with case no. 7268.

The case revolves around Attorney Reedy’s conviction in Alabama for manslaughter resulting from a drunk driving accident that caused the death of a bicyclist.  The accident happened in 2016 and on March 21, 2018, Attorney Reedy pled guilty to manslaughter for causing the death of another person while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Alabama sentenced Attorney Reedy to 36-month suspension and probation.

In April 2017. the Grand Jury of Baldwin County, Alabama indicted Attorney Reedy for causing the death of another person while driving under the influence.

The respondent had sought advice from the OBA Ethics Counsel regarding self-reporting twice but was informed that there was no duty to do so unless there was discipline imposed for lawyer misconduct.

Eventually, somebody reported the conviction to the Oklahoma Bar Association which triggered an investigation and ultimately led to disciplinary proceedings. An Order of Immediate Interim Suspension was issued on June 20, 2022, pursuant to Rule 7 of the Oklahoma Rules Governing Disciplinary Proceedings, suspending Attorney Reedy and providing an opportunity to show cause against the suspension.

The de novo review deemed that Attorney Reedy’s conviction for manslaughter and the circumstances surrounding the drunk driving accident demonstrates unfitness to practice law, leading to disciplinary action. The case was then referred to the Professional Responsibility Tribunal for a hearing on final discipline. The tribunal recommended a suspension of two years and one day, along with the imposition of costs. The Oklahoma Bar Association agreed with the tribunal’s recommendation.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court’s stance that “there is an existing authority that a lawyer has an implicit authority to self-report a criminal conviction,” considered Attorney Reedy’s failure to report the conviction to the Alabama State Bar, the Oklahoma Bar Association, and his employer, the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS) as having constituted violations that demonstrated unfitness to practice law. It subsequently held that the respondent’s law license should be suspended for two years and one day, retroactively starting from June 20, 2022. Additionally, Attorney Reedy was ordered to pay costs amounting to $2,883.68 within ninety days of the court’s final opinion.

The disposition reads:

“This is not a routine case in which a lawyer was merely picked up for a misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence. Rather, another person was killed due to this lawyer’s intoxication. Consequently, a suspension for two years and one day and the payment of costs is required.”

According to Avvo.com., Attorney James Darrel Reedy is an oil and gas attorney in Wichita Falls, Texas. He attended the Oklahoma City University School of Law. He acquired his law license in Oklahoma in 1994.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.