Norwalk attorney battling with the bottle

Reese M. Wineman doesn't know when he became an alcoholic. "It's hard to tell exactly, but I probably drank too much over the years," the Norwalk attorney said.
Cary Ashby
Jul 26, 2010


Reese M. Wineman doesn't know when he became an alcoholic.

"It's hard to tell exactly, but I probably drank too much over the years," the Norwalk attorney said.

He suspects alcoholism became an issue 10 to 12 years ago.

Wineman, 61, remembers drinking in the morning, afternoon and evening, saying he "couldn't get enough."

"I didn't experience a lot of blackouts, but I had some blackouts," he said. "(It's) no way to live.

"I believe it's a disease," Wineman said. "I've been sober since July '07."

Alcohol-related incidents from August 3, 2006 in Huron County Common Pleas Court and May 9, 2007 in Norwalk Municipal Court have landed him in hot water. As a result, the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Disciplines, in its final Dec. 17, report, ruled Wineman would be suspended from practicing law for two years.

The board stayed its decision, putting him essentially on probation, and said Wineman had to comply with the recommendations from the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program. It's set up for attorneys with drug, alcohol and emotional problems. He must also make quarterly reports to a "monitoring attorney" and "must not commit any further misconduct" to continue practicing law.

In the 2006 incident, a Huron County sheriff's deputy handling courthouse security suspected Wineman was intoxicated, according to a document from the Supreme Court of Ohio.

"Opposing counsel in one of (the) respondent's cases came to the same conclusion after trying to discuss the case with him. The lawyer reported his suspicions to the magistrate and the magistrate confirmed the lawyer's impressions with the deputy sheriff," the document states.

During the 2007 incident, Judge John Ridge and a prosecutor "detected the odor of alcohol" on Wineman, according to the court record. Wineman said both Huron County Magistrate Danita Conway and Ridge told him "you can't come to court like this."

"You've got to do something about this," he said they told him, recalling the conversations.

And he has been doing something: He usually goes to three or four Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings each week something he started before the court ordered him to do so. In 2008, Wineman drove to Tiffin for the intensive outpatient program through Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services twice a week for three or four months.

"He's not appeared in court before when there's been any problems," Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway said.

Magistrate Danita Conway was handling cases in Ottawa County on Friday. Ridge declined to comment.

Former prosecutor, bartender

Wineman became an attorney in 1976 and served as an assistant county prosecutor until 1984. From 1980 until 1994, he was the Norwalk law director.

While working his way through law school, Wineman was in sales, was a Sylvania Optical manager and worked in the Lucas County Common Pleas Court work release program.

Ironically, he also was a bartender in Toledo for about two years.

The defense attorney was asked if he realized he was an alcoholic at the time.

"To be honest, I didn't know much about definitions about it," he said.

Wineman helped start the Toledo Celtics rugby team, in which he was a player-coach. While in his 40s, he continued playing the demanding sport in a now defunct Sandusky team when he worked for the Huron County prosecutor's office.

He recalled there was a lot of partying when he played rugby.

'I didn't learn enough'

In 1995, Wineman was found guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) after pleading no contest in Norwalk Municipal Court, which resulted in a six-month driver's license suspension. There was another DUI conviction n Marietta.

"I spent 20 days in jail in Marietta. That was a second offense," Wineman said.

"I didn't learn enough. ... You'd think after a second offense," he said, his voice trailing off. "That's how insidious the disease is."

Luckily, Wineman said he doesn't think his alcoholism got to the point it affected his mental functions in court. However, he said that's not something he can "completely answer" and admitted his addiction started affecting his work three or four years ago.

"It wasn't that I wasn't showing for hearings," Wineman said, but he turned to drinking as a release from both minor and major frustrations.

Wineman believes going to AA has been very helpful.

"It's readily available. It's out there," he said.

The recovering alcoholic intends to maintain his sober lifestyle. Addressing alcoholism is a daily struggle.

"You have to be more disciplined in the things you do," Wineman said.



Your honesty and openess about your disease and recovery are appreciated. I wish you the best in your recovery.


Best wishes to you. Face it head on & deal with it.


I can totally believe how it all started though. Those drinking teams have a rugby problem!

Most Wanted

Mr. Wineman, goodluck to you. My father was an alcoholic, and was sober for 25 years before he passed a few years back. Keep going to those meetings! There are good men and woman in AA who truly care about your recovery. God Bless you and you can do it! I commend you for telling your story.


It takes a lot of guts and fortitude to openly admit this to "small town" Norwalk, or any small locale, for that instance.
Good luck to you.
Wishing you only the best.


I ABSOLUTELY agree with you "judge"!

This fella has some BIG ones for sure! Much GOOD luck to him:)


He is making himself vulnerable to those who cannot and will not appreciate his struggles. ANYONE, who has fought this battle and won knows the difficulties that are met daily along the path to sobriety.
To be slam dunked because you do not not meet someone else's criteria for perfect is sad at best. Holding yourself up for public ridicule because you had the courage to be honest and tell your story requires courage beyond measure.
To Reese
God Bless you for your courage.



Bill Z. Bob

This message was deleted because of vulgar language.



i can't help but to think the same thing. yes, kudos to him for coming out and telling his story. Normally I'm a very supportive and non-judgemental person. HOWEVER....
he admitted to coming to court intoxicated....I'm just curious how many fathers or mother lost custody OR didn't get their proper parental rights, etc. in bitter divorces because he was too intoxicated to do his job to the best of his ability.

Again, he is a very courageous man for coming forward with this but it is wrong. Very wrong, and I can forsee many angry clients coming out in protest (and I can't say that I would blame them).


Yah Reese!!!! Good for you. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. It was hard for me to stay sober in a town full of drunks.I had to move away. You have strong roots in Norwalk. Keep your feet planted and you`ll be ok.You have way more support than you think.


And for all of you who are nay sayers,you need to know that Reese is a very good lawyer and as far as I know,he has always done good for his clients. I`ve never heard anybody complain about him.


It often strikes me as odd that in our overly self-medicated society that those who practice substance abuse and 'overcome' it are so often celebrated, when so many others practice self-control and are essentially ignored.

I guess a story entitled, 'Norwalk attorney never drank,' or 'Norwalk attorney drinks occasionally’ wouldn't be very interesting to read, but they and those like them who use alcohol in moderation or not at all, are in my opinion, the authentic individuals who are true to themselves, their clients and their families.

He quit because he got caught, not out of some moment of realization - big difference.

Richard Cranium

TO: judgemenot wrote on May 9, 2009 9:00 AM:

" It takes a lot of guts and fortitude to openly admit this to "small town" Norwalk, or any small locale, for that instance.
Good luck to you.
Wishing you only the best. "

You are so right. It takes a lot to be on the front page in a small town and admit to this, especially since it has always been talked about, behind his back. I know his friends and family have always tried to tell him, but he never quit.

Reese is a good guy. I hope this works out for him.

Watchdog One

Wineman always liked the limelight.
He always wanted to be somebody.

I can't forgive him for taking peoples money tp represent them while drunk. It's a lot for the Ohio Supreme Court to disbarr some one.

Read Wineman's case on the Ohio Supreme Court Website.

swiss family

PollyPat.. you have some real issues dear!!! you praise Reese on this post for his courage, and strength, but then you contradict yourself on another story, mentioning , and attempting to put him down in a judgemental way!!!! does the word H Y P R O C R I T E... Mean anything to you????


First of all, this story is about Wineman, not Polly.
Secondly you are the biggest hypocrite of all bloggers Swissy. Look at your posts regarding the tax issues article which you couldn't come back and justify because you couldn't. You were busted.

As far as this story, I don't think many people would have anything good to say if this person was the average joe.
However, I wish Reese well in his continuation with sobriety.


how did he not know, i had about him in the bars all the time, i had heard almost 10 yrs ago that he was an alcoholic, heck now when i think about it he was a drinker when he was my dads attorney 20 years ago

Most Wanted

If you know anything about alcoholism, it is that the alcoholic usually doesn't admit or realize he has a problem until he hits the bottom. He can be told for years by friends and family and until something drastic happens he doesn't realize it's a problem. It is a disease. And there is a cure. It's called AA and one day at a time and Mr. Wineman is a strong man and will probably overcome this. My guess would be that Mr. Wineman probably never lost a case due to drinking. Most Alcoholics function day to day very well. An outsider would never know there's a problem.


Luckily this celebrated fool didn't kill or seriously injure innocents while driving drunk.

The argument that alcoholism is a disease is ludicrous. Nature may have given him the gun, but he 'chose' to put bullets in the chamber.

Using one’s DNA as a defense for the cause and the reason for one's deviant or dangerous self-destructive behavior is a very disturbing legal path.

The serial killer couldn’t help himself, because his genes made him do it.

Will the Reflector next highlight a local damaged professional who is battling urges of pedophilia?


Most wanted,
Thank you for that. I agree 100%.

Bill Z. Bob

Maybe a couple of the Judges will follow suite on this, I could be a pr!ck and name them but I won't. It would only end up deleted! Cuz we all know how they protect their own!!!


I guess this means that He never passed a bar in his life


Contango is just mad cuz he's not celebrated.


Contango & Swiss.........get a room.


I have a remedy to Reese wineman transportation problems, maybe he could get George Fords assistant Tom Root to fly him in his airplane where he needes to go! LOL, Oh I forgot, Tom is doing time in a federal pen! LOL,. 5 1/2 years!


Reese made 100 on the Register. Whaaaaa Whoooooooo


Norwalks version of Wheel of Fortune
"same name"


Congratulations you've just won a 2009 Cadillac and $50,000.00


Swiss said:
"does the word H Y P R O C R I T E... Mean anything to you????"

What the heck is a hyprocrite? That's funny stuff right there.


teufelshunde wrote on May 10, 2009 1:53 PM:

" Contango & Swiss.........get a room. "

Don't need it, but kindly clean up after rogerthat and you are finished using it.