Two lawyers struck off register

Shaan Stevens in his home office. Photo / supplied
Shaan Stevens in his home office. Photo / supplied

A lawyer with a poor disciplinary history who "misconducted herself" in the Maori Land Court, and one who filed fraudulent tax returns when working as an accountant, can no longer practice law in New Zealand

The Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal, in decisions released yesterday, ruled Shaan Winiata Stevens and Catherine Majorie Clarkson would be struck off the profession's register.

A statement from the Law Society says Ms Clarkson, who now lives in Wellington but previously worked in Hastings, was found guilty by the tribunal on two charges of misconduct.

One was for failing to account for money she received as grazing frees, the other was for "misconducting herself" in the Maori Land Court.

The tribunal noted the seriousness of the charges, her disciplinary history and that rehabilitative measures had been unsuccessful in the past.

Ms Clarkson was ordered to pay $35,000 in costs to the Law Society and to reimburse it for the costs of the hearing.

Two years ago she appeared on TVNZ's then 7pm current affairs show Close Up to discuss the Ewen Macdonald murder trial. Macdonald was ultimately acquitted of shooting dead his brother-in-law Scott Guy

The discussion raised eyebrows as it took place when the jury was deliberating.

The other lawyer struck of is Shaan Winiata Stevens, formerly of Wellington.

Mr Stevens was convicted in the Wellington District Court in 2011 on fraud offenses and attempting to pervert the course of justice. He was sentenced to 10 months' home detention and community work.

Mr Stevens filed fraudulent income tax and GST returns for clients when he was operating an accounting business.

He did not appear at his tribunal hearing and now lived overseas. He was ordered to pay $5,346 costs to the Law Society and reimburse it for the costs of the hearing.

Law Society President Chris Moore said it was a great disappointment to the legal profession when a lawyer was struck off.

"Few lawyers are struck off, but when they are it is a reminder to all lawyers that their profession is one where very high standards of integrity and behaviour are required."

- APNZ

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