Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of decision on disciplinary action


John (Jack) Joseph Jacob Hittrich

Surrey, BC
Called to the bar: August 1, 1986
Discipline hearing: January 15, 2020
Written submissions: April 6 and 20, 2020
Panel: Phil Riddell, QC, chair, Linda Michaluk and Shona Moore, QC
Decision issued: June 8, 2020 (2020 LSBC 27)
Counsel: Peter Senkpiel and Julia Lockhart for the Law Society; Peter Leask, QC, Russell Tretiak, QC and Rasjovan Dale for John (Jack) Joseph Jacob Hittrich.

Background

A hearing panel found that, while representing clients in a proceeding in the BC Supreme Court, John (Jack) Joseph Jacob Hittrich attempted to resolve litigation in favour of his clients through improper means, by doing one or more of the following:

  • threatening to expose alleged perjury by representatives of the Director of Child, Family and Community Services in related proceedings, unless the Director agreed to settle the litigation as his clients proposed; and
  • attempting to influence the Director to exercise her statutory decision-making authority for an improper purpose.

The panel found that Hittrich committed professional misconduct (2019 LSBC 24).

Disciplinary action

The Law Society characterized Hittrich’s conduct as trying to “blackmail a government official into taking a step inconsistent with that official’s statutory duty to act in the best interest of a child.” The acts were both serious and deliberate, and the Law Society sought a disciplinary action of a four-month suspension and costs of $18,655.85.

Hittrich suggested a two to six-week suspension and costs of $16,965.85. He noted the panel’s finding that, although the conduct was serious, there was a lack of mala fides on his part.

The panel considered Hittrich’s professional conduct record, which consisted of four conduct reviews and a practice standards referral. Hittrich pointed out the length of time over which these matters arose, and that there were no citations before 2018.

The panel found that the misconduct was not the result of an impulsive act but was planned and committed for tactical advantage. This is a case where the seriousness of the conduct emphasizes the need to ensure the public’s confidence in the integrity of the profession.

The panel ordered that Hittrich:

  1. be suspended for three months; and
  2. pay costs of $18,665.85.

 

2020 LSBC 27 Decision on Disciplinary Action

2019 LSBC 24 Decision on Facts and Determination