Officials: U.S. Commerce Secretary Suffered Seizure

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"It's difficult to assign criminal liability when someone was medically unconscious," Meister said. "They have to be aware what was happening."

Meister said he has represented people who have been involved in crashes while having seizures. He recalled how one woman struck another vehicle and didn't remember anything that transpired.

No one was injured, but the woman was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence because she was acting disoriented, Meister said. The woman didn't have any drugs or alcohol in her system, but she pleaded to a misdemeanor crime.

"It turns out she had a history (of seizures)," Meister said. "If I was (Bryson's) lawyer, I would try to find all the evidence there was to back up what he's already said."

The episode is consistent with someone who has suffered a series of epileptic seizures, said Dr. Jerome Engel Jr., a neurologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who is not involved in Bryson's care.

After a seizure, a person is often confused, and that state of confusion can last for a while.

"You may even seem to be alert and awake, but you're not really behaving normally," Engel said.

Under California law, a doctor has to report a patient who complains of lapses of consciousness or whose epileptic seizures pose an impairment to driving. In those cases, a person can't drive unless he's been seizure-free for three months.

Bryson had been in California last week to deliver the commencement address Thursday at Pasadena Polytechnic School, where his four children attended. The K-12 school said in a statement that he urged students to pursue their passions, to serve their country, and to value their education and friendships.

Obama swore in the former utility executive as the head of the Commerce Department in October, after easily overcoming conservatives' objections that his pro-environmental views made him unsuited for the job.

As secretary, Bryson is a member of the president's economic team and has worked to promote job creation. He has advised on energy issues, particularly in the clean energy sector.

Bryson is the former head of Edison International, the holding company that owns Southern California Edison. Bryson has served on boards of major corporations, including the Boeing Co. and the Walt Disney Co.

He helped oversee Edison's transformation into a leading wind and solar company and launched a plan to turn 65 million square feet of unused commercial rooftops into solar power stations with enough electricity for more than 160,000 homes.

Meister believes the case will be sent to prosecutors for review.

"It will ensure a full investigation because no one will want to be accused of sweeping this under the rug," he said. "If there is a reject (of charges), the sheriff will want the DA to share in the responsibility of that decision."

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