CaseLoad has a soft-spot for hapless ex-lawyer Evgeny Orlov, who defrocked himself the other day rather than get hammered again by legal witchsmellers.
Often at odds with the court system and its judges, he was ground through the professional mincer for close on six years, largely as a result of his bitter public feud with Justice Rhys Harrison, now of the Court of Appeal.
At the nub of it all was Orlov's publicly stated claim that Justice Harrison was a racist who had it in for him because he was a foreigner - a Russian.
Justice Harrison eventually had a gutsful and the then-Chief High Court judge Justice Tony Randerson's subsequent complaint to the law society about Orlov's behaviour and allegations triggered protracted disciplinary action.
[Justice Randerson's complaint also snared Orlov's barrister chum, Frank Deliu, who in 2012 won a four-year court battle against Justice Harrison over a wrongly imposed legal incompetency "fine". A rare indemnity costs order of about $11,000 imposed on Deliu by Justice Harrison when he was a High Court judge was quashed by the Court of Appeal because the judge got it wrong. Maybe more on Deliu's trials and tribulations another time.]
Orlov - who often referred to "fascist judges" - faced numerous charges of unprofessional conduct, including making allegations about Justice Harrison on a number of occasions that were either recklessly false and scandalous or made without sufficient foundation.
He was struck off by the lawyers and conveyancers disciplinary tribunal in 2013, a decision he successfully appealed to the High Court, but more charges and unfinished business was on its way.
In the latest decision from the disciplinary tribunal, a stay of proceedings was granted when Orlov voluntarily agreed to be removed from the roll - a concession similar to that previously made by former crime barrister Christopher Harder.
Even although he did not consider himself guilty of the charges, Orlov agreed never to apply for a practising certificate or to practise law in New Zealand again.
In an ironic twist, the law society was ordered to pay $16,004 towards the tribunal's costs.
There's little doubt judges will be pleased with the outcome of this round of Russian roulette.
But CaseLoad reckons a wee light went out when some folk lost the grace to tolerate an ill-disciplined, stubborn, argumentative, confused and occasionally unsatisfactory legal maverick - just because he got up a judge's nose...
Footnote: CaseLoaders will remember how Justice Harrison was scammed out of $42,259 by serial fraudster James David Stewart (31) in an elaborate bank fraud in 2013.
Commonsense Solves Auckland Housing Crisis
A law making it illegal to sell houses in Auckland for more than $500,000, or buy them for less than $500,000, would instantly solve the queen city's housing crisis, CaseLoad's Breakfast Think-Tank think.
"Some minor details would have to be worked out," said A Blonde Perched On A Wooden Stool Wiggling A Cocktail Umbrella. "But that's what we lawyers are here for."
"Bottoms up," said The Scunner.
Wise Words From Real Folk
CaseLoad's mailbag continues to swell with sensible, commonsense feedback.
* Bob says:
"Your comments regarding how justice is dispensed in New Zealand, depending on one's standing in the political or sporting world are, sadly, all too true. (CaseLoad May 15)
That a trout poacher of no notable sporting prowess can be incarcerated for a year, and a prominent rugby player who assaults and injures can walk away without conviction, defies any concept of what might be expected from our courts, as equal justice.
Surely the repercussions of a jail sentence on the trout poacher would have far harsher consequences on his family, his employment and even his influence in keeping his children on the straight and narrow, than concerns for the sporting and financial future of someone with an inclination towards violence.
Consideration of lack of education or suitability for other means of employment should not be used as an excuse to avoid conviction.
I'm reminded of a TED Talk given by Bryan Stephenson, an African-American lawyer advocating equal justice, who stated that in America today you have a better chance of walking free if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent.
There is a Gilbertian irony in the way different judges view the way the law is administered, and to whom.
Enjoyed your column..."
[Justice Simon Moore reserved his decision this week on Thomas Tawha's High Court appeal against his 12-month jail term for trout poaching.]
* Alan, of Tauranga, says:
"I enjoy your column each week for the sanity and real world approach.
There is another form of two-tier justice you haven't mentioned, from a news report on a Tauranga road rage assault a couple of years ago:
'Judge Ingram considered a jail sentence due to Moran's previous convictions, but decided against it as Moran had stayed out of trouble for more than a year...'
Moran was fined.
Every non-lawyer I have spoken to thinks the judge's reasoning should be reversed, i.e: 'You have only stayed out of trouble for more than a year so I am increasing the penalty...'
On the other hand I can only assume that like all good business the courts want repeat business - which they would lose if offenders are unable to commit income earning (for the legal profession) offences because they are locked up."
* Fiona, of Papatoetoe, (abridged) says:
"I totally agree with Professor Bill Hodge regarding his comments on our two-tier justice system.
This latest case with the discharge without conviction of George Moala concerns me mostly because Judge Robbie Ronayne stated he took Moala's expression of remorse with a large grain of salt, as Moala still says he is not guilty.
When doing anything in life you take ownership of your actions. If you are not prepared to, why did a sceptical judge give a free pass?
As for Moala having to support his wife and 4-year-old daughter, I expect there are many prisoners and others serving home detention, doing community service or paying fines, whose family situations are similar...
Welcome to the real world.
Perhaps Mrs Moala could get a job just like thousands of other Kiwi mothers whose husbands don't earn a six-figure salary and don't seriously injure another man in a drunken brawl..."
* John, of Wellington, (heavily abridged) says (among other things too scandalous to repeat except in the sanctity of the Ladies & Escorts Lounge):
"Your views on new Auckland Crown solicitor Brian Dickey are misplaced ... He really is a bit of a (deleted), unlike Simon Moore who was a real good b*st*rd ... And this view of Dickey is supported by former district court judge (name withheld) ... etc ...
On your criticism of Wellington and its weather ... (CaseLoad 1/5/15) Auckland is a sh*t h*le ... too much rain, too many p**fters and the traffic is a disgrace ...
Wellington is cool and the traffic is only a problem when there is a big flood ... Going to Wellington by plane is exciting ... Courtenay Place is a great area and your reference to 'chunder mile' is, in my view, defamatory ..."
Lawyers Continue To Cream It
Research shows lawyers continue to ride high on the hog, with 72 per cent of nearly 2000 NZ Law Society members surveyed reporting a pay rise in 2014.
It is unclear how the financial fortunes of the country's remaining 10,600 lawyers fared.
Information was gathered in February for the Law Society Hays Legal Salary Survey from lawyers employed in firms and in-house.
Of the respondents, 73 per cent expect their base salary to increase in 2015, with 43 per cent of those expecting their increase to be between 1 per cent and 3 per cent.
Interestingly - and this may reflect the growing strength of the economy and the willingness of folk to pay their legal bills on time - more surveyed lawyers expect bigger pay rises this year but fewer expect to get more than 10 per cent.
June and July are the golden months for pay increases but lawyers should expect little in May, August or October.
All of which is rosier than a Law Society/Momentum salary survey in 2012, which revealed 65 per cent of respondents got a pay rise in the previous 12 months, 30 per cent had no change and 6 per cent got a pay cut.
What's Upset This Judge???
Insiders say Judge Robbie Ronayne, whose curious discharge without conviction of a rugby player found guilty by a jury for his part in a bar-room brawl, featured in CaseLoad last week, has been in a foul mood since.
"I hear that normally docile lawyers have taken to drinking, smoking and cursing aloud, including use of the 'C' word, after incurring His Honour's recent courtroom wrath," said Our Man At The Bar.