Reston Attorney Accused of Drunken Behavior at Seminar Has License Suspended Again for Contempt

by Dave Emke September 13, 2017 at 11:30 am 24 Comments

A Reston attorney accused of boorish behavior as he drunkenly attended a legal seminar now faces an additional license suspension that will not allow him to practice law in the state well into the next decade.

Wayne Richard Hartke of Hartke Law Offices (11890 Sunrise Valley Drive) did not appear in court for a client’s preliminary hearing on Aug. 6, 2016. When he was called from the courtroom, Hartke said he did not show up because he had not been paid. The judge told him his attendance was required regardless of whether he had been paid, to which Hartke responded that he was physically unable to come in.

Hartke later said that his home had been foreclosed upon in February 2016 and that the sheriff had removed all his active files, which led to him being unaware of the Aug. 6 hearing. However, investigation determined that the case had been entered in May, meaning the sheriff could not have removed the file.

The court found that Hartke had “obstructed and interrupted the administration of justice” and he was sentenced to 10 days in jail. In its ruling last month, the Virginia State Bar suspended his license to practice law for five years because of “a pattern of misconduct by [Hartke] during his many years of practice.”

That suspension won’t go into effect until Oct. 27, 2019, after a three-year suspension that was issued last October is served. The current suspension relates to charges that were brought upon Hartke by a Virginia State Bar panel a few months after alleged drunken and disruptive behavior at a Continuing Legal Education seminar in Tysons on Jan. 8, 2014.

According to the legal account of that day’s events:

[Hartke] was a walk in registrant to the above referenced CLE program and he arrived late.

During the morning session of the program, [Hartke] sat in the back of the room and shortly after arriving fell asleep and began snoring. [Hartke’s] snoring was so pronounced and loud that the site coordinator for Virginia CLE, Ms. Hope Linzer, was alerted and had to come in to the room to wake [Hartke] from a deep sleep. During the morning session, [Hartke’s] snoring was heard by numerous attendees and was disruptive of the class.

During the afternoon session of the program, [Hartke] moved to the front of the room and began loudly talking at the video screen. [Hartke’s] outbursts were disruptive to the class and once again Ms. Linzer was alerted to the situation by another attendee, G. Burke. Ms. Linzer entered the room and asked [Hartke] to refrain from disrupting the class in this fashion. Despite this, [Hartke] continued to talk loudly at the video screen.

Because [Hartke’s] outbursts continued, he was led from the room by one of the attendees, John Primeau, Esquire. Mr. Primeau would testify that the odor of alcohol emanated very strongly from [Hartke], that he was unsteady on his feet, and that [Hartke] admitted to Mr. Primeau that he had been drinking. Mr. Burke would testify that [Hartke] appeared to be intoxicated and that he smelled of alcohol. Mr. Burke would also testify that he personally observed a bottle of liquor amongst [Hartke’s] belongings which [Hartke] had left in the back of the room following the morning session.

In a written response to the Virginia State Bar, Hartke denied the allegations. In March 2015, however, Hartke’s license was suspended six months. He was also ordered to enroll in a two-year treatment and monitoring program, called Lawyers Helping Lawyers.

In September 2016, however, LHL’s clinical director reported Hartke had missed meetings, was not participating in a support group and was not providing required updates. Following this, the State Bar suspended Hartke’s license for three years.

The consecutive suspensions mean Hartke will not be eligible to practice law in Virginia again until October 2024.

According to Virginia Lawyers Weekly, Hartke was also reprimanded in 2010 and 2011. He served a 10-day jail sentence for contempt in 2009 after showing up with a blood-alcohol content of .127 as he was representing a client in Fairfax County General District Court.

  • Mike M

    “When he was called from the courtroom, Hartke said he did not show up because he had not been paid.”

    Hmmmn, what was it that Shakespeare said about lawyers? “First thing . . . ?”

    • Thomas Day

      Hi, my name is Mike. (Hi Mike). I seem to think I’m funny and that everyone needs to hear my funny jokes. On every single Reston Now post. Please send help.

      • Mike M

        No. Your name is Tommy and you are obsessing with me. Sick.

        • Thomas Day

          Because your need for attention was just so sad.

          • Mike M

            Got substance?

          • Thomas Day

            Yes, your inane comment on every single post. Which I’m sure we’ll see more of today.

          • Mike M

            Sick boy.

          • The Constitutionalist

            New Update to Breaking News Story!

            Thomas Day, former Mike M fan club chairman turned flip flopper fails to see the irony of his own posts. Posts a complaint about Mike M posting on every post as Flip Flopper Day posts on every Mike M post.

            Stay tuned for further developments.

          • Thomas Day

            That’s because it’s just funny now. You two boys unemployed together?

      • Don

        What a sad life you must lead that you feel the need to follow someone around an internet forum and harass them, simply because you disagree with their political beliefs. You’re coming off as a real creep. It’s not cute or funny.

      • The Constitutionalist

        Breaking news!

        Thomas day, former Mike M fan club chairman turned flip flopper to Anti Mike M fan club has decided to pretend to be Mike M, starting a whole new fan club dedicated to pretending to be Mike M.

        Stay tuned for more details, substance to (not) come.

  • Reston Now

    Take your bickering to the schoolyard, boys.

  • RestonAssurance

    I worked there in a past life – this is wild!

  • Why do you bother?

    I’m guessing that this:

    “as he drunkenly attended a legal seminar ”

    is closely related to this:

    ” his home had been foreclosed upon in February 2016 “

    • Mike M

      I’m guessing that the drunkenness didn’t help that situation much.

  • Why do you bother?

    You must be new here. Mike consistently attributes the actions of a few to the the actions of all. Depending on ethnicity of course.

    • capsandogs

      Not new, just eternally ignorant lol. Nah I just don’t come for the companionship and thus never remember anyone.

  • Mike M

    I base my statements on my experiences and those of people I know. I’ve known many. Might be they are the only ones thinking they are doing any good.

    • Understandable

      Congrats, you went deep on this and came back with analysis


      • Mike M

        I get a kick out of the pincer heads in here who think you need to back up your life-long observations with someone else’s observations. There are studies to support everything.

        • capsandogs

          That’s a really poor analogy, being slapped in the face is a unique first person experience (lawyers being scumbags is your OPINION)… I won’t go all into Rene Descartes but basically it breaks down to “I don’t know what it’s like for you to be hit in the face, I only can know what it’s like for me to be hit in the face.” That type of singular opinion on a subject is of course why you chose this analogy, but in actuality it is the thing that makes it useless.

          The fact that you don’t understand these things is why you shouldn’t be talking as much as you do.

          • Mike M

            Allow me to adjust the sophist pincers on your head, Renee . . .

            If you have consistently bad experiences with lawyers and everyone you know has consistently bad experiences with lawyers, you will observe that lawyers bring bad. That is an observation based on experience. Just like being slapped in the face enables you to observe from experience that getting smacked in the face hurts.

            The analogy is perfectly valid.

            And I smell a lawyer.

          • capsandogs

            Haahaha definitely NOT a lawyer. I just know science’s benefits and pitfalls well enough to know that one social groups personal opinions of another don’t actually amount to fact.

            What types of lawyers have you met? Under what circumstances? Did any of your friends win their cases with the lawyers? Was there any bias towards “the system” by these people before they didn’t win their court case? People who get wrapped up in an emotional court case will always feel cheated if they don’t win, and they will point that at anyone (lawyers are an easy one). My point about being smacked in the face was meant to imply that it’s only one persons perspective, maybe people like pain so they wouldn’t say it “hurts”, who knows… plenty of people have good experiences with lawyers, you probably just need some better friends, or at least some less guilty ones.

  • Greg

    Any correlation to Rescue Reston?


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