Please find summaries with respect to:
For the full text of discipline decisions, visit the Regulation & Insurance / Regulatory Hearings section of the Law Society website at lawsociety.bc.ca.
Larry William Goddard
Called to the Bar: May 20, 1975 (ceased membership June 6, 2007)
Discipline hearings: September 17, 2007 (Facts and Verdict) and February 27, 2008 (Penalty)
Panel: Leon Getz, QC, Chair, Ralston S. Alexander, QC and Kenneth M. Walker
Reports issued: October 25, 2007 (2007 LSBC 46) and May 12, 2008 (2007 LSBC 14)
Counsel: Maureen S. Boyd for the Law Society and no-one on behalf of the respondent
On May 12, 2008, the hearing panel suspended Larry William Goddard for six months. A summary of the decision will be published in the next Benchers’ Bulletin.
Called to the bar: January 3, 1973
Hearing dates: April 10, 11, 12, May 23, July 13, August 31 and September 12, 2006 (Facts and Verdict), May 18, 2007 (Penalty) and February 12, 2008 (Review)
Hearing panel: Glen Ridgway, QC, Chair, Leon Getz, QC and Gavin Hume, QC
Penalty: Majority decision: Leon Getz, QC and Gavin Hume, QC; Minority decision: Glen Ridgway, QC
Review panel: Gordon Turriff, QC, Chair, Kathryn Berge, QC, Robert Brun, QC, Peter Lloyd, David Mossop, QC, David Renwick, QC, Marguerite Shaw, QC
Reports issued: Facts and Verdict, January 10, 2007 (2007 LSBC 03); Penalty, September 7, 2007 (2007 LSBC 40); Review, May 8, 2008 (2008 LSBC 13)
Counsel: Herman Van Ommen, Judy Walker and Brian McKinley for the Law Society before the hearing panel, and Jean Whittow, QC, for the Law Society at the review; Sheldon Goldberg appearing on his own behalf
Sheldon Goldberg represented four men on four separate criminal appeals that were heard together. The common ground of appeal was an allegation of inadequate representation at the trial by JB, the lawyer who had originally represented all four accused.
The Court of Appeal dismissed all four appeals and was highly critical of Goldberg’s conduct and competence in its written reasons. It said Goldberg’s affidavits were “unworthy of any lawyer” and that his factums and written submissions were “rambling,” “repetitive,” “disorganized” and “among the poorest examples presented to this court in recent memory.”
The court also said Goldberg used his right of audience to make “seriously damaging, but completely unfounded” allegations of misconduct, including drug and alcohol abuse, against JB.
A Law Society hearing panel reviewed extensive materials concerning the allegations Goldberg made against JB and found no proper evidence to support the assertions. Further, it found Goldberg failed to demonstrate adequate knowledge of substantive law, practice and procedures needed to effectively represent his clients, contrary to Chapter 3, Rule 1 of the Professional Conduct Handbook. The panel concluded Goldberg did not competently carry out his duties as counsel.
The panel found Goldberg guilty of professional misconduct in making unfounded, but serious, allegations about the conduct of JB. They further concluded that he incompetently carried out the duties he undertook in the appeals.
A majority of the hearing panel ordered Goldberg:
1. be suspended from the practice of law for a period of 90 days, starting January 1, 2008;
2. submit any written material relating to an argument based on the ineffective assistance of counsel to a practice supervisor for review before filing; and
3. pay costs of the hearing.
The minority called for a suspension of 180 days, not 90 days. The minority agreed with all other aspects of the decision.
On February 12, 2008, the Benchers heard Goldberg’s application for a review of the hearing panel’s decision on verdict, penalty and costs.
In a letter to the Law Society dated October 16, 2007 Goldberg listed 11 points that he believed demonstrated errors made by the original panel. The Benchers found one of the points difficult to comprehend and invited Goldberg to argue and explain each of his points at the hearing, but he chose not to do so.
After considering all of the issues raised by Goldberg, the Benchers found no merit in any of them. In their decision, the Benchers reiterated that Goldberg exposed JB to severe criticism and allegations without proper foundation. Further, the Benchers stated that Goldberg had “incompetently tried to build his client’s cases on allegations that he knew or should have known were unsubstantiated.”
The Benchers noted that, while lawyers must be given latitude in determining what evidence is required for the proper prosecution or defence of their clients’ cases, that latitude “is tempered by the responsibility to take care at all times.” The Benchers said counsel must “understand … what facts must be proved and how to prove them, having regard to the rules of evidence” and that “counsel have no right to lead just any evidence or say just anything in court.”
The Benchers dismissed the review application with costs payable to the Law Society.
Kathryn Jayne Karst
Called to the bar: August 1, 1986
Discipline hearing: March 27, 2008
Panel: James Vilvang, QC, Chair, Robert Brun, QC and William Jackson
Report issued: April 3, 2008 (2008 LSBC 11)
Counsel: Jaia Rai for the Law Society and Jean Whittow, QC for Kathryn Jayne Karst
Kathryn Jayne Karst practised as a sole practitioner from the date of her call until January 1987, when she ceased to be a member of the Law Society for failure to renew her practice certificate. Karst resumed practice in June 1989 as an associate with the law firm of I & Company until January 1990, when she joined the law firm of C & Company as an associate. From March 1996 until the present, Karst has practised as a self-employed lawyer under the name of C & Company and with C as an associate.
In January 2005 the Law Society conducted a practice review of Karst’s legal practice, as ordered by the Practice Standards Committee under Rule 3-13, finding periods of delay or inactivity in six of the seven files reviewed. The committee accepted the nine recommendations set out in the practice review report.
In a follow-up practice review conducted in June 2006, the Law Society found delay or inactivity in seven of the nine files reviewed, noted eight of the previous recommendations were “partially done” or “not done,” and issued a revised set of 12 recommendations. A second follow-up practice review in November 2006 indicated that eight of the outstanding recommendations were “partially done” or “not done,” and noted periods of inactivity in four files, including delays in proceeding on a criminal defence, attending to entry of a restraining order and securing a client’s release from custody.
Admission and penalty
Karst admitted she failed to maintain adequate office and file management systems as alleged in the Law Society’s citation, and admitted that in doing so, she incompetently carried out duties undertaken in her capacity as a member of the Law Society.
The panel accepted Karst’s admission and proposed penalty under Rule 4-22, and ordered that she:
1. be reprimanded;
2. practise only as an employee of one or more lawyers to be approved by the Practice Standards Committee and under an employment supervision agreement in a form satisfactory to the Practice Standards Committee, until that committee relieves her of this condition; and
3. pay costs of $2,000 by December 31, 2008.
Donald Eric Linge
Called to the bar: July 13, 1977
Hearing dates: February 14, 2008
Panel: G. Glen Ridgway, QC, Chair, Robert Brun, QC and Thelma O’Grady
Reports issued: March 10, 2008 (2008 LSBC 07) and Corrigendum issued April 10, 2008 (2008 LSBC 12)
Counsel: Maureen Boyd for the Law Society and James Carfra, QC for Donald Eric Linge
In approximately 2000, a vendor retained Donald Eric Linge to act in a real estate transaction involving lots with an easement registered against them. During the closing procedure, Linge accepted a trust cheque on May 9, 2000 on his undertaking to discharge the easement against two of the three lots.
On approximately May 17, 2000 Linge submitted an application to the Land Title Office to discharge the easement from the properties. About six days later the Land Title Office issued a notice declining to register the discharge. Sometime in between the application and the notice declining it, Linge released the funds from trust.
Linge explained in a letter to the Law Society dated June 28, 2007 that he had been undergoing a marriage breakdown and financial difficulties for some time in the 1990s and that by 2000 and 2001 his life was essentially in chaos. His marriage had broken down and relations with his wife were so disruptive that his then partners wrote her a letter insisting that she not come to the office. He was also undergoing serious financial problems. In addition, after returning from a vacation in September 2001, he was effectively dismissed from the partnership and locked out of the premises.
On October 29, 2002 the lawyer from firm Y, who had put Linge on the undertaking, wrote to Linge regarding the discharge of the easement and requested that Linge “attend to this matter without delay.” Following the letter, Linge spoke to the lawyer on at least two occasions in 2002 and said he was taking steps to discharge the easement.
In January 2007 another lawyer at firm Y contacted Linge regarding the discharge. The following month she made a complaint to the Law Society regarding Linge’s failure to comply with his undertaking made on May 9, 2000. In May 2007 the Discipline Committee directed Linge to undergo a Practice Review. In June 2007 Linge retained a lawyer, at his own expense, to ensure the easement is discharged.
Admission and penalty
While fully admitting his disbursal of funds without fulfilling his undertaking is professional misconduct, Linge told the panel that his failure to discharge the easement caused no hardship to any of the parties involved in the transaction. Linge further admitted that between late 2002 and February 2007 he took no significant steps to discharge the easement and fulfill the undertaking.
Under Rule 4-22, the panel accepted Linge’s admissions and proposed penalty and ordered that he pay:
1. a fine of $3,000; and
2. costs in the amount of $2,000 with both being payable at $1,000 per month, beginning April 1, 2008.