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.


swiss family

Congratulations to you Reese...and continued success in your sobriety... It does take a lot of guts to openly discuss your shortcomings to the entire community, thatwas a gutsy move, and I wish you all the strength, and persistance that your sobriety will require.
I don't, however, think that alcoholism is a "disease" and I also think that to classify it as one, takes ownership away from onesself, and makes it a problem that is bigger than themselves, and kind of sets them up for failure.. because it takes the responsibility away from the person, and blames it on a genetic malfunction which might be beyond their control
to me, alcoholism is a choice.. although it is true that some people do behave differently than others under the influence.. there is a cure for this "disease" and the cure is abstinence..which is NOT a cure in itself.. it is a behavior readjustment, where you CHOSE to either drink it or not.. you can't say that about cancer, or diabetes, or MS or Parkinsons etc, they are truely diseases.. and they are not controled by the behavior of the "patient" unlike alcoholism.. which is totally under the control of te actions of the person who has it
good luck Reese


Sthu Swiss!!

Most Wanted

Swiss, I don't think anyone really knows if alcoholism is a disease or a "learned behavior", heriditary or whatever. I can tell you this: There were 7 kids in my dads family. 3 sons, 4 daughters. My dads dad was an alcoholic, my dad was an alcoholic as well as his two brothers. Of those 7 brothers and sisters there were 21 grandsons and 18 granddaughters. Of the 21 grandsons, 17 are alcoholics (the other 4 are still minors so don't really know yet). None of the woman have ever had a problem with alcoholism. I find that to be very odd and makes me believe it is a genetic condition. I could be wrong, I'm not a doctor. Maybe I just chose to believe my dad was sick and found the cure. Either way, he got the help he needed and lived out the rest of his life as my hero. So diseased, weak, or by choice ... there is a fix.

David Deerest.

LOL @ whopper2009...LOL!


No contango. You & swiss are always good for tearing people down; hence the comparison.


I agree with you. Bless your Dad for what he did. Recovery is not easy, and it is a lifetime stuggle daily. I have the upmost respect for those who make a decision to no longer be a slave to alcohol.


teufelshunde wrote on May 11, 2009 7:51 PM:

‘ No contango. You & swiss are always good for tearing people down; hence the comparison.’

In your 'opinion' little man. Remember to clean up the room.

just plain disgusted

It all goes back to the saying "Children LIVE what they LEARN".


Way to go Reese! You have come a long way! Congrats on being sober and keep up the good work :)


My comments would be deleted so why


God Bless you in your sobriety.




Contango = alien. Anyone who admits their error is better for it.


You are so funny, no wonder you are a favorite here.


teufelshunde wrote on May 13, 2009 12:40 AM:

'Contango = alien.'

In the future, why not attempt to be a bit more mature by keeping to the subject and save the personal trash talk?

Your little man big blog hero trash talk antics are a waste of my time.


Reese is very brave to come forward like respect for him has grown alot. It takes a big man admit a problem like this on the front page of the newspaper...

And for those of you who are trashing have obviously never dealt with someone who has a substance abuse problem.


Oh and Swiss -

So you are saying because someone "choses" to drink alcoholism is not a disease? So if someone choses to smoke and gets lung cancer then cancer isn't a disease?? Or if someone choses to eat McDonalds or BK everyday and gets heart disease it's not really a disease because the person "chose" to do something???

Just curious...


Oh, look, autumn is finally graduating Kindergarten!!!

Most Wanted

Excellent comparison insnotme. Never heard it put that way.

swiss family

itsnotme.... no, what I actually said is that I don't believe that alcoholism is a disease! there are real diseases, like cancer, ms, parkinson's etc.. but drinking is an action and a choice! not a disease..
to call alcoholism a disease, seems to imply that it is not the persons fault or gives them any ownership of the behavior.. when in reality, there is a known "cure" for too much drinking.. and that is to not do it!!! it is thee choice!
imagine just for a minute that if there was a known stop for cancer, and all it took was a behavior modification, like stop eating candy... don't you think that 100% of all cancer patients would stop eating candy??? the same for ms, or parkinson's, alzheimer's all "real" diseases.. there seems to be something malfunctioning, which they have no control over.. or very little control.. alcoholism , on the other hand.. has a solution.. and that solution is to never drink alcohol again.. and you will be basically there is a "cure" for it.. it just depends how motivated, and how much self control and desire the alcoholic has to overcome it.. I wish all of the other "real " diseases had such a simple cure


Swiss~ no I don't think "everyone" would stop eating candy...the same way the "everyone" hasn't quit smoking, despite the fact that smoking causes cancer. I think I made my point.

wife of an addict

The AA 11th tradition states:

"Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we
need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and


wife~ so you mean he shouldn't have come forward?? I thought that one of the 1st steps was to admit you have a problem...he is just admitting it to everyone in a public forum. Is this wrong in your opinion or am I misunderstanding you?

Most Wanted

Swiss, telling an alcoholic to "just stop drinking" is like telling you to "just stop typing". Now do you understand?

Norwalk Resident

Swiss, I agree with you. When I hear the word "disease" I don't think of it as a condition one does to him/herself.
But in real definition, it states that in human beings, "disease" is often used more broadly to refer to any condition that causes pain, dysfunction, distress, social problems, and/or death to the person.
In that case, I guess alcoholism would be included. Though it seems odd to me, apparently they have expanded the term to cover more illnessses.

Norwalk Resident

oops...too many sss. give me anofer drink LOL


I haven't heard any of research to confirm that Alcoholism is not a disease.


LMAO @ MostWanted!!!!

Norwalk Resident

I had recently read that it was in 1956 when the American Medical Association recognized alcoholism as a disease. I am not putting truth to the article, just stating what I read.

Most Wanted

wife of an addict wrote on May 13, 2009 12:34 PM:

" The AA 11th tradition states:

"Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we
need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and
films" "

Wife of an addict, without promotion or knowledge of some sort there would be no AA. A member is not to tell other members names and so forth but I don't think announcing that you are an alcoholic and AA has helped you tremendously is bending any rules. Everyone knew my dad was in AA. He had people calling for help all the time. He was a speaker in several different locations. There is an AA website. I don't understand what your trying to get across.