Tulsa attorney in trouble following his arrest for DUI

Wednesday, November 19th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa attorney is in trouble with the law. Tulsa Police arrested James Rogers for drunk driving last week; it's his fifth drunk driving arrest in the past 10 years.

He's still working and still driving and News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright wondered why.

Tulsa Police reports show James Rogers recently got into a car accident on South Lewis and got out of his car and walked away. Officers arrested him a few blocks away and say Rogers had alcohol on his breath, slurred speech, and bloodshot eyes and was staggering.

Records show this is Rogers' 5th such arrest. In 1992, he plea-bargained the DUI down to impaired driving. In 1995, he plea-bargained another DUI down to misdemeanor impaired driving. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI and got a one year suspended sentence and community service.

And, just this past summer, he was sentenced for another DUI and driving with a revoked license. He got a 5 year deferred sentence, more community service and court ordered treatment.

The people in Rogers' office say he hasn't been here in a week, that he's missing in action and his clients keep calling and they don't know what to tell them. The last time he was spotted, they say was two nights ago, sitting at a bar, drinking at a Tulsa country club.

The judge warned Rogers this summer it was his last chance and now, that same judge has signed an arrest warrant for Rogers for violating his probation. Prosecutors say Rogers' case isn't unique; it's typical of a system that's looking for alternatives to tight budges and crowded prisons.

Doug Drummond, Tulsa County Asst DA: "Unfortunately the way the system is set up, we're not going to get prison time on these folks. But, we'll look at the evidence in this case and ask for prison time on this guy.”

The state bar says Rogers has a clean license. Attorneys generally don't get disciplined unless clients call in and complain that their lawyer's behavior is affecting their work. We've learned some of Rogers' clients plan to call and file those complaints this week.

A judge had ordered a locking device placed on Rogers' car after this summer's conviction, but we're told, he wasn't driving that car during last week's accident.

Prosecutors say despite the push to get tougher on drunk drivers, even juries often don't see it as a crime that requires prison time.