Lawyer told court staff 'go back to North Korea'

Namyang Workers' District in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea.
Namyang Workers' District in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea.

A lawyer who allegedly told a court registrar to "go back to North Korea and work in the camp there" has been fined $1000, chastised and ordered to apologise.

The lawyer, who is not identified by the Law Society standards committee which reprimanded her, allegedly approached the registrar and demanded her case be called when the court resumed after a break.

Registrars are staff who help run court sessions, often dealing with administrative matters.

When the registrar said this could not be done, the lawyer in question was allegedly "verbally offensive".

The registrar, who is of South East Asian heritage, claimed the lawyer said that she should "go back to North Korea and work in the camp there".

The lawyer said that she appeared in court for a 10am hearing but could not locate her client and approached the registrar for help.

The lawyer claimed the registrar was unhelpful, but informed her that the case was due to be called at 11:45am.

She was unavailable then and said the time of hearings was frequently changed without defence lawyers being told.

The registrar complained to the Law Society and one of its standard committees said the lawyer admitted she made a general statement that court staff "who changed the dates and times of cases without letting defence counsel know might prefer to either apply for a job (or work in) a country that doesn't have defence counsel such as North Korea".

The committee said that even if it accepted the lawyer's version of events, it was of the view that her statement "in the presence of someone whose appearance could be seen as being of Asian descent, was still capable of being taken personally and considered to be discriminatory in its intent".

While the lawyer explained that the statement was not personally directed at the registrar, the standards committee found that the comments were not consistent with lawyers' rules of conduct.

The committee said the lawyer's conduct was unsatisfactory and that she "had failed to promote and maintain proper standards of professionalism in her dealings with the registrar and failed to treat her with respect".

- NZ Herald

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