A defence lawyer who claimed to be one of the best in Auckland can no longer practise law after his 'incompetent' advice to a client led to a miscarriage of justice.
It's the third miscarriage of justice in three years where clients of Arlan Arman had their convictions quashed on appeal, because of his failings in his professional duties.
Arman was suspended from practising as a lawyer for 10 months in July last year following a case - first revealed by the Herald - in which he pressured a client into pleading guilty to serious sex offences.
The conviction was reversed in a scathing judgment, and the man was later acquitted at his trial.
Arman was found guilty of misconduct by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal, but only suspended because it was his first offence.
Now, Arman has been struck from the legal register in a decision by the disciplinary tribunal released this week.
"The pattern which emerges is that of incompetent practice in representing defendants in the criminal process leading to significantly negative consequences for clients and for the criminal justice process," the disciplinary tribunal wrote in its findings.
"The entire process is brought into disrepute by actions such as the practitioner's where it would seem that the client's needs are not being put before those of the practitioner."
The tribunal, chaired by Judge Dale Clarkson, considered there was a need for "public protection from this practitioner" and when Arman failed to engage in the hearing, there was "no option" but to strike him from the register of barristers and solicitors.
In response to the disciplinary tribunal's ruling, Arman sent a statement to the Herald which said:
"Representing these types of clients requires me to make personal compromises that I am not prepared to make.
"To that end, I don't consider myself a proper fit with this profession, which is why I stopped taking new clients over two years ago to look for a vocation more aligned with my personal ideology."
He now lives overseas.
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The case which ended Arman's legal career was a client who was a male model who started masturbating while posing nude for a sculptor.
The nude model told police he was unaware the female sculptor was uncomfortable, and put his clothes on immediately when he realised she was.
The police charged the man with indecent assault and he told Arman, his defence lawyer, that his priority was to avoid a conviction and prison sentence.
Arman cut a deal with the police prosecutor to lower the charge from indecent assault, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, if his client agreed to plead guilty to an indecent act with intent to offend.
The lesser offence carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. Arman's plan was to then apply for a discharge without conviction for his client.
The man pleaded guilty to the indecent act but his application to be discharged without conviction was thrown out.
The sentencing judge - who was relying on the summary of facts which the model pleaded guilty to - considered the man's behaviour to be persistent, rather than a misjudgment or mistake.
He was convicted and sentenced to 120 hours of community work. However, the model was "shocked" to hear the judge's remarks as Arman, his lawyer, had never shown him the summary of facts.
If he had seen the summary of facts, the model said he would not have pleaded guilty.
Arlan also failed to take a brief of evidence from his client as to his version of events, or ask the police for all the available evidence to be disclosed to him.
As such, Justice Mark Woolford was satisfied a miscarriage of justice had occurred as the model did not appreciate the nature of the charge and Arman's failure to identify possible defences.
The conviction was overturned in December 2018, and the prosecution abandoned, before the complaint which ended Arman's career was made to the Law Society.
Justice Woolford's decision came 12 months after Judge David McNaughton released a stinging judgment which found Arman - whose website advertised himself as one of the best lawyers in Auckland - pressured a client to plead guilty to three sex charges.
"While Mr Arman claimed to be one of the best lawyers in Auckland on the basis of service to clients and results achieved, what emerges from the evidence here is the complete opposite," wrote Judge McNaughton.
In analysing the case, Judge McNaughton said there was always an "arguable defence" to the charges and identified evidence of a potential motive for a false complaint of rape to be made.
"The only conclusion I can come to is, that at the last moment, with a firm fixture imminent and no prospect of further adjournments, Mr Arman pressured his client into pleading guilty by giving him misleading advice."
That decision led to the first Law Society complaint and the 10 month suspension last year.
The third miscarriage of justice involving Arman was detailed in a Court of Appeal judgment which quashed the convictions of a man convicted of historical sex offences after a trial in 2018.
The man denied the allegations and wanted to discuss with Arlan the possibility of giving evidence in his own defence. However, he signed a handwritten note given to him by Arlan confirming he did not want to take the stand at his trial.
Although the decision whether to give evidence is for the client, the Court of Appeal said it had to be an informed decision.
"Mr Arman did not adequately explain the advantages and importance of giving evidence ... Of particular relevance is the fact that the defence was one of denial and [the man] had not provided any statement to the police."
The Court of Appeal also criticised how the Crown and trial judge handled expert evidence given at the trial. The convictions were overturned and the prosecution was abandoned.