A disgraced lawyer who could lose her career says she doesn't have an alcohol problem, despite racking up five convictions, including three for drink-driving.
Sacha Beacham, a criminal defence lawyer, appeared before the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal at the Auckland District Court yesterday and said she had made some "poor decisions" in her life but was not an alcoholic.
The Law Society is seeking to have the Hastings lawyer struck off after she admitted two charges of bringing the profession into disrepute because of convictions for drink-driving and for resisting and obstructing police.
Beacham abused police officers after her friend was pulled over and failed a breath test on New Year's Eve. She told them to "shut the ******* door" and "**** off".
After ignoring their requests repeatedly, she tried to avoid being handcuffed by grabbing hold of the car's wipers. She was convicted and fined $200 in June.
Beacham has also admitted a third charge of misconduct laid by the Standards Committee which stems from an episode in the Napier police cells on the same night. She is alleged to have "behaved in an indecent and offensive manner toward police officers" during a strip search.
A criminal charge of performing an indecent act with intent to offend was dropped, but Law Society lawyer Paul Collins described it as an "appalling episode" that could not be tolerated.
He asked her if she acknowledged removing her clothing in front of police officers. Beacham said she was in a "traumatised state".
"I was in the confines of a police cell where I had two female police officers approaching with rubber gloves on."
She did not accept the evidence but declined Judge Dale Clarkson's invitation to get legal advice.
"You are going to have to help us out and do more than just act the victim and take what is thrown at you," Judge Clarkson said.
Beacham declined the offer.
"I've dedicated myself to solving other people's problems and I believe I'm good at solving other people's problems - just not my own."
She apologised to the tribunal but said she believed the correct finding should be a suspension.
"My decision-making has effectively ruined my career and reputation."
As well as asking for Beacham to be struck off, Mr Collins said the Law Society was seeking $20,300 in costs for the investigation and prosecution.
Beacham said she was "unemployable" and was working part-time as an employment consultant.
She had no savings and would be unable to pay the costs. "That's what happens to people who stuff up like I have."
The tribunal has reserved its decision.