Sacramento attorney Andrew E. Benzinger has been recommended for private reproval with public disclosure by the California State Bar following his conviction on a charge of resisting or obstructing a police officer.
The reproval stems from Benzinger's July 18, 2016, no contest plea to the misdemeanor violation following charges filed over an incident at his home the previous May, according to the 14-page decision and order issued Sept. 12 by the state bar.
The state bar court found that the facts and circumstances of Benzinger's alleged offense do not involve moral turpitude but do constitute misconduct warranting discipline, according to the decision. The effective date of Benzinger reproval is Oct. 18, according to information on his profile at the state bar's website.
The state bar's decision is pending final action by the California Supreme Court, an appeal before the state bar's review department or expiration of time in which parties may request further review within the state bar court. Benzinger's recommended discipline was among the dispositions filed by the state bar court's hearing department for September.
Benzinger was admitted to the bar in California on June. 3, 2002, according to his profile. Benzinger had had no prior discipline before the state bar, according to his profile and the decision.
Benzinger "was experiencing extreme family and emotional difficulties associated with his marital separation", involving "an extremely contentious custody dispute" and his "disastrous marriage", said the order and decision. His problems reached a climax May 18, 2016, when he received a foreclosure letter, "got upset and began drinking", then "grabbed a can of lighter fluid" and a lighter, according to the decision.
Benzinger failed to immediately comply with multiple police orders to stop and, after he squirted lighter fluid at an officer, Benzinger was tased by two officers, according to the decision.
Charges of attempting to set a fire and resisting an officer were filed by criminal complaint two days later, according to the decision.
The court found no evidence that Benzinger "ever caused any client harm or that he ever allowed his problems to impact on his law practice." Thus, this court affords [Benzinger]'s family and emotional issues some weight in mitigation."