November 11, 2007

IN: a criminal defense lawyer, a recovering meth addict, but not a convicted felon

From the Evansville Courier and Press:

Happe resumes treatment, hopes to restart law practice

For Brad Happe, the moment of truth arrived around 8:30 p.m. Friday as 12 jurors returned to a Vanderburgh County Superior courtroom after four hours of deliberation. If convicted, the 30-year-old Evansville attorney faced six years to 20 years in prison on two methamphetamine - related charges.

"(Defense attorney) John Brinson told me to give my wallet and watch to my parents, because if they found me guilty, I was going to be taken to jail right away," Happe said. "That was the scariest moment." When jurors announced Happe was not guilty on both counts, he first thanked Brinson, then the jury, then his family and friends...

The bumpy road Happe has been down began at a party years ago, where he said he first tried methamphetamine... Happe said a 2006 conviction on a misdemeanor charge of visiting a common nuisance led to his ongoing recovery effort. In that case, he pleaded guilty after being accused of leaving a place where meth was manufactured... "This is a lifelong process," he said of his recovery.

Happe says his plans are to resume his career in criminal defense when he returns to Evansville in several months. "I'll be able to identify with my clients much more now," he said. "I'll understand where they are coming from because I went through the whole process. A client who comes to me will get someone with a unique perspective..."