It's hard to know when things went bad for Mary Ann Giebink. It's hard to know when she took the irreversible steps that led to the collapse of her law career.
But it's easy to know when things began to get better.
That would be this summer and fall, when Giebink stepped up to the South Dakota legal system, explained her crimes, addiction and depression, and began to heal.
Giebink, 50, pleaded guilty to three charges she faced after a police chase last May that reached 100 mph. One charge was the felony of "aggravated eluding" that put herself and others at risk of injury or death. Another was second-offense drunken driving, a misdemeanor. The third was felony grand theft by embezzlement, a shuffling of money at her law office that began the sequence that led to her drunken binge at a Sioux Falls bar and the chase.
Her actions startled a community that knew her as a leader on social, legal and gender issues.
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Lawyer Sees Blessing in the Fall: 'I Was Dying Inside'