Last week I resolved three cases involving pleas of guilty or no contest to drug / alcohol related offenses and the subsequent investigations and prosecutions by the individual Client’s respective State licensing Board(s):
- The Texas Optometry Board
- The Texas State Board of Pharmacy
- The Texas Medical Board
In each case, although the Board did not have jurisdiction to discipline for the criminal status in-and-of-itself, each agency found a way to link the conduct (the actions behind the commission of the criminal offense) to the Client’s occupational practice and attempt to resolve the matter through a reasonable agreed order.
Neither the Texas Pharmacy Act nor the Texas Optometry Act afforded jurisdiction to the agency to discipline the license holder for the court ordered felony deferred adjudication probation(s). However, public scrutiny being what it is, each Board simply stated that the conduct was egregious and unbecoming of a licensee. Moreover, the Board’s mission was to protect the public and each agency felt this was something the public should know about.
In each case the Respondent was able to put forth an excellent showing of compliance since the offense date as well as evidence demonstrating their good professional character including efforts made to remediate the circumstances. Each Agreed Order allowed the individuals to remain in active practice in an unsupervised manner. No active suspension was imposed in either case. A fine was assessed in one case. The reality –a pound of flesh for punishment and appearance! Unfortunately, each Client had technically violated another Rule or Statute of their respective licensing Board’s Act so if prosecuted they would be subject to discipline under an alternative theory. The good news is each agency was receptive to the individual’s situation(s) and took into account the mitigating and remedial circumstances. The bottom line is sometimes deferred probations do not afford the protection from State licensing board & agencies that they used to. The Texas Pharmacy Act has also been amended to include jurisdiction over deferred adjudication(s). The act discussed above occurred prior to the amendment going into effect.