The law license of Terry Joel Nolan, one of Muskegon’s highest-profile trial attorneys, has been suspended for three years because of his 2013 cocaine-use conviction, reports Michigan Live.
The suspension takes effect Nov. 5 and runs until Nov. 5, 2017.
A Michigan Attorney Discipline Board hearing panel of three Muskegon County lawyers released its decision Oct. 14. That decision was the outcome of a hearing held June 25, at which Nolan and other witnesses testified.
As conditions of not losing his license altogether, the 56-year-old Nolan must comply with all requirements of his four-year misdemeanor probation; refrain from “all mind or mood altering substances” unless prescribed by a doctor; take drug tests at least monthly; continue with counseling and 12-Step recovery group participation; and be monitored for three years by the State Bar of Michigan’s Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program.
“I am still going to continue to work at my law firm for (attorney) Matt Kacel,” Nolan said Wednesday, Oct. 22. “Obviously I can’t practice law, but I’m going to be the best legal assistant I can be.
“In recovery we expect the worst and hope for the best,” Nolan said. “I’ve been prepared for a long time. … Obviously I’m disappointed, I would have liked a different result. But I’m not fighting it, I’m not appealing it, I’m accepting the consequences of my behavior.”
Nolan said he is also writing his third book. The first, a legal thriller set partly in Muskegon titled “Reunion by Murder,” was recently published, and Nolan said a second book is in the editing stage.
Nolan has been practicing law again since Feb. 6, following a nine-month period during which his license was placed on interim “inactive status” because the Attorney Discipline Board deemed him “incapacitated to practice law” as a result of cocaine dependency.
On July 24, 2013, Nolan was sentenced to one month in jail, five months of house arrest and four years on probation for his fourth cocaine conviction. He earlier pleaded guilty to cocaine use-second or subsequent offense (double penalty), a misdemeanor.
Nolan previously lost his law license for seven years over earlier cocaine convictions, regaining it in November 2009.
In the latest incident, Nolan was arrested Feb. 27, 2013. That was less than two months after the State Bar of Michigan lifted its requirement that he submit to random drug tests in order to maintain his license.
Nolan’s first drug conviction, for cocaine use, was in 1992. It earned the attorney a 90-day suspended jail sentence and an expungement after a year of probation.
A decade later, a Kent County judge sentenced him to two years’ probation for a 2002 conviction of possession of less than 25 grams of cocaine.
While still on probation for that, in November 2003, Nolan was arrested and charged with cocaine use-second offense. That case earned him a six-month jail sentence.