Lawyer Who Said Using Cocaine Was A Good Idea Now Admits He Made A Mistake

Nathaniel Edmond Strasser, a now-former assistant public defender, was accused of using cocaine before a client’s hearing. As a result, the Pennsylvania lawyer faced an ethics case. During that ethics hearing, Strasser argued that using cocaine — in low doses — has a positive effect on performance. He even said, “My mental awareness was at a heightened state, not a lower state,” thanks to his cocaine use.

Strasser represented himself. Which is pretty much the only way that argument gets made.

The Pennsylvania Office of Disciplinary Counsel recommended a year and a day suspension of Strasser’s law license.

Now Strasser has retained actual counsel, Philip Friedman, and he is VERY MUCH walking back his pro-cocaine statements. Friedman filed a brief with the disciplinary board of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court seeking disciplinary probation, rather than the recommended suspension. And that filing contains all the expected mea culpas. Strasser acknowledges representing himself in the disciplinary case “was inappropriate and deficient.”

As reported by the ABA Journal, the filing also recognized Strasser’s addiction and the treatment he’s under for the problem.

“Despite his testimony, he is in fact an addict,” Friedman wrote in the brief. “Like many other professionals, he has a difficult time acknowledging that fact.”

Strasser submits to regular urine tests as part of his outpatient rehabilitation program. He should be placed on “substance abuse probation” subject to conditions set by the disciplinary board, the brief said. He previously received in-patient treatment in 2018 and 2019 but did not submit that evidence to the board, the brief said.

Friedman also told the Journal, “I requested that the hearing committee give me an opportunity to present evidence of his substance abuse history and treatment, but they declined. The absence of this evidence in the record complicates the case enormously.”

Strasser was admitted to the bar in 2007 and has no prior disciplinary issues.

Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon @[email protected].

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