Stoddard suspended from law practice

Published 3:00 am Saturday, April 28, 2012

An order issued by the disciplinary commission of the Alabama State Bar Association will keep a Brewton attorney from practicing law anytime soon.
Sara “Sally” Oswald Stoddard, who was arrested April 5 on drug charges, was notified of the suspension April 18 after the restraining order was filed in the office of general counsel for the Alabama State Bar Association.
In the order, Oswald was named in a petition that stated she was “engaging n continuing conduct which is causing, or it likely to cause, immediate and serious injury to a client or the public.”
The order also stated Stoddard would be restricted from maintaining an attorney trust account at any financial institution.
Stoddard, 65, of Evergreen, was arrested at her offices at 222 Belleville Ave., earlier this month after an undercover operation was conducted at the location. As a result, she was charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and attempting to commit a controlled substance crime — both felony charges.
Bond in the case was set at $10,000 which Stoddard posted shortly after her arrest. She remains free on bond.
The 2012 arrest just weeks ago was the second time Stoddard had been arrested on similar charges in 2003 — which also result in the suspension of her license to practice law.
According to a report in The Evergreen Courant at the time of the 2003 arrest, Stoddard was arrested by officers with the Conecuh County Sheriff’s Department after a search warrant uncovered illegal prescription drugs. At the time, sheriff’s officials said they were acting on a tip that she was buying the drugs from clients.
A published announcement by the Disciplinary Commission of the Alabama State Bar said Stoddard was suspended from the practice of law based on her arrest on two charges of unlawful possession of controlled substances in 2003. Then in 2005, the commission stated she had been given a public reprimand for her actions. Charges in that case were later dismissed and Stoddard was able to resume practicing law.
Stoddard moved her law practice in Brewton in 2009 and had acted as counsel in cases involving clients arrested on a variety of charges in Escambia County.
Brewton Police Chief Monte McGougin said Stoddard’s latest arrest was the result of an investigation into allegations that the attorney was accepting narcotics as payment for legal services.
“We had gotten a tip that this kind of activity was going on,” McGougin said. “We had someone go into the office posing as someone who had been arrested by our department and offer to make payment for legal services with drugs and cash. When the suspect accepted the payment, we were able to make the arrest.”
McGougin said officers had been investigating the allegations against Stoddard for several weeks looking for the right time to make the arrest.
No details concerning a court date have been released by officials.