Court Opinion: Presiding Disciplinary Judge Opinion for Oct. 10

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

People v. William Thomas O’Connell Hart III

According to the opinion, in February Loveland police officers were dispatched to investigate a physical disturbance involving William Thomas O’Connell Hart III. When the officers arrived, they contacted the victim, J.B., whose nose appeared crooked. J.B. was also bleeding from his mouth. Hart and J.B. were neighbors but had never met before this incident. 

J.B. explained he was inside his apartment with his wife, their son, B.B. and J.B.’s three-year-old grandson. Hart came to their apartment uninvited because he said “he heard something wrong” coming from their apartment. Hart told law enforcement he went to “investigate” loud noises and yelling. J.B. and his family asked Hart to leave, which he initially did. But Hart returned a short time later, refused to leave and “stepped up” at B.B., who was standing near his three-year-old son. J.B. and his family felt threatened and told Hart they would defend their family and call the police. Hart then struck J.B. in the face, according to the opinion.

The opinion added J.B. used various techniques to restrain Hart until he calmed down. Hart continued to act aggressively and to make threatening statements, including he was going to take J.B. out and J.B. would feel the pain, the opinion said. According to J.B., his wife was very shaken by this incident.

According to the opinion, Hart was not cooperative with law enforcement officers, who reported they smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Hart’s breath and they observed indicia of intoxication. Officers also saw an open can of beer in Hart’s apartment. Hart denies he was drinking. 

Hart pleaded to one count of second-degree assault as part of an 18-month deferred judgment and sentence, the opinion added. He was ordered to complete a mental health evaluation. Under Hart’s probationary terms in his criminal case, Hart must refrain from consuming any alcohol during his probation and is subject to testing for substances.

The opinion said the Presiding Disciplinary Judge approved the parties’ stipulation to discipline and suspended Hart for nine months, with the requirement he petition for reinstatement, if at all, under Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 242.39(b). He must prove by clear and convincing evidence he has been rehabilitated, has complied with all disciplinary orders and rules and is fit to practice law. The suspension takes effect Nov. 14.

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