Hanna petitions for reinstatement of license

Updated 23 weeks ago Lawrence J. Smith

CHARLESTON - After two years on hiatus, a Cabell County attorney seeks a return to the practice of law.


        Tomorrow, a three-member panel of the Lawyer Disciplinary Board will conduct a hearing on Amber Hanna’s petition for reinstatement to the state Bar.  On Aug. 30, 2016, the Supreme Court suspended her license for a year retroactive to Jan. 20, 2016 following her admission to a long-term drug problem.


        According to court records, Hanna was fired as a deputy public defender on Nov. 2, 2015 following discovery the month before she not only appeared impaired during a hearing before Judge Christopher Chiles, but also was recorded talking with a confidential informant for the Huntington Police Department at the home of Lyman McCoy about her use of Suboxone.  Two weeks after her termination, Hanna sent the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the arm of the Court that investigates attorney misconduct, a letter “admitt[ing] to drug and alcohol dependency and state[sic] she had entered an intensive alcohol and drug rehabilitation facility.”


        Along with the suspension, the Court ordered Hanna to undergo random drug screens, attend regularly counseling sessions, attend a 12-step recovery program five days a week and perform 30 hours of weekly community service to the Bar’s Lawyer Assistance Committee.


        In her petition filed Aug. 25, Hanna said has not just fulfilled, but also exceeded all the requirements for reinstatement.  Along with entering into a five-year monitoring contract with it, she’s provided “in excess of 60 hours of service” a week to the Lawyer Assistance Program.


        Also, she avers since November 2015 she has “lived a law-abiding, responsible life.” 


        Prior to her work as a public defender, Hanna, 39, of Barboursville, clerked for judges Alfred Ferguson, and John Cummings, now retired, and worked briefly with the Huntington law firm of Mundy and Nelson.


        In 2008, the Court appointed Hanna to fill Patty Verbage Spence’s vacancy as magistrate. 


        Three years earlier, Hanna received her law degree from Ohio Northern’s Petit College of Law.   She was admitted the Bar on Oct. 10, 2006.


        Tomorrow’s hearing will take place at the City Center East building in the Kanawha City section of Charleston.  The panel, which is chaired by Gail Henderson-Staples - a partner in the Huntington law firm of Henderson, Henderson and Staples - has prohibited the use of cameras, and other recording devices inside the hearing room. 


        A decision by the Court on the panel’s recommendation could take up to another year.    

        West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, case numbers 15-1106 (Hanna suspension) and 17-0748 (Hanna reinstatement)

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