FORT WAYNE – For years as an attorney and public defender, Mitchell W. Hicks has had to argue cases that sometimes seemed impossible to defend.
Tuesday morning, he made no defense for his own actions.
Hicks, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and carrying a handgun without a license, appeared before an Allen County Superior Court judge to learn his sentence.
He also admitted he had violated the conditions that allowed him to remain free until that sentence was handed down. Namely, he had tasted alcohol, something he was forbidden to do.
I screwed up, he said.
Judge Fran Gull sentenced Hicks to serve a total of 100 days in the Allen County Community Corrections program, which means the attorney will be on house arrest and probably fitted with an ankle bracelet to track his whereabouts.
Last year, Fort Wayne police arrested Hicks, 56, outside the Hitch-in-Post bar after an encounter with a former client.
Officers found Hicks behind the wheel of a car at the bar.
He admitted to drinking for several hours and that he had a handgun for which he did not have a license or a permit to carry.
After a blood-alcohol test – the results of which were not released – Hicks was arrested on misdemeanor charges of drunken driving and carrying a handgun without a license.
He entered a rehabilitation facility after his arrest and in March pleaded guilty to both counts without the benefit of a plea agreement.
He was scheduled to be sentenced next month and allowed to be free as long as he did not consume alcohol or drugs.
Tuesday, he admitted to being an alcoholic and to having alcohol sometime late last month.
A doctor who has been counseling Hicks referred to it in testimony as a lapse but not a relapse, mainly because Hicks did not fall into his old habits again.
Hicks apologized to Gull and other colleagues in the courtroom during the hearing, some of whom he’s worked with or alongside for years.
That included Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards, who attended the hearing, and Allen County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Michael McAlexander, who worked the case against Hicks.
Before his sentencing, Hicks told Gull: Whatever you do, I deserve.
Gull ordered Hicks to serve 60 days at the Allen County Jail on the drunken driving charge but suspended 50 days of that sentence. She ordered him to serve 365 days on the charge of carrying a handgun without a license but suspended 275 days.
She then said he could serve his time in the county community corrections program and that his license will be suspended for 180 days.
There is a fear you’re on a self-destructive path if it isn’t interrupted, you’re going to die, Gull said.
Hicks has a previous drunken-driving conviction from Whitley County in 2004.
According to Indiana State Court records, Hicks’ license to practice law is active and in good standing.