Complaints, Lawyer Discipline and Public Hearings

Summary of Decision of the Hearing Panel

Joseph Harry McCarthy

Smithers, BC

Called to the bar: May 17, 2000

Discipline hearing: April 14, 2016

Panel: Nancy Merrill, QC (chair); James Dorsey, QC; Lois Serwa

Decision issued: June 14, 2016 (2016 LSBC 23)

Counsel: Carolyn Gulabsingh for the Law Society; Terence La Liberté, QC for Joseph Harry McCarthy

BACKGROUND

On July 15, 2015, a citation was issued. McCarthy admitted the allegations contained in the citation are proven and that they constitute professional misconduct, and accepted the proposed disciplinary action. The hearing panel accepted his admission.

AGREED FACTS

McCarthy was retained by the Legal Services Society to represent a client who had been charged with assaulting his brother, uttering threats and assaulting a peace officer. After McCarthy was retained, the client gave him the disclosure package and Crown Counsel Disclosure Notice he had previously been given while representing himself.

During a meeting in the Prince Rupert courthouse, McCarthy argued with his client and challenged him to a physical fight.

On May 9, 2013, McCarthy filed a Notice of Withdrawal of Designated Counsel form, and on May 15 the client asked McCarthy to return to him all documents that had been supplied by the RCMP, Crown Counsel or himself.

McCarthy mailed the disclosure documents he had received from the client to Crown Counsel in Prince Rupert.

McCarthy admits he should have returned the documents to the client, and that he did not consider that the client’s handwritten notes on those documents may be subject to solicitor-client privilege.

McCarthy admits that he challenged the client to a fight, that he disclosed confidential information of the client, and that both actions constitute professional misconduct.

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

The panel ordered that McCarthy pay:

  • a fine of $6,000; and
  • costs of $1,236.25.

 

2016 LSBC 23 Decision of the Hearing Panel