Monday, June 11, 2018
An uncivil Canadian?
Interactions with a Crown prosecutor have landed a Prince Albert defence lawyer a hefty fine.
The Law Society launched an investigation into Dale Norman Blenner-Hassett on Feb. 16, 2015 following a letter alleging “a variety of misconduct,” filed by a Crown prosecutor referred to as “S.V” according to a decision published on May 30, 2018. The defence lawyer is facing a $2,500 fine, and paid $1,050 in legal fees after being found guilty of conduct unbecoming of a lawyer.
“It is an understatement to say the two did not have a positive working relationship,” the decision read.
A letter dated Oct. 27, 2014 sent to S.V. regarding a particular criminal client included a number of misstatements, accusations and innuendo according to the statement of facts. Blenner-Hassett’s letter alleged S.V. was aware of and even condoned police mistreatment of one of his clients.
In a letter sent Oct. 29, 2014 S.V. recommended Blenner-Hassett forward his concerns to the police commission. In response, on Nov. 4, 2014 the defence lawyer said her response was “woefully inadequate,” and alleged police officers reported directly to the Crown prosecutor.
“The Member stated that ‘these officers are under your supervision and management during this period certainly, they and you must be held accountable,’” the statement of facts read. “The member stated that S.V.’s conduct may be examined ‘using other avenues.’”
Blenner-Hassett acknowledged his comments in the letters dated Oct. 27, Nov. 4 and Nov. 17 of 2014 “exhibit an intemperate tone and go beyond zealous advocacy.”
The defence lawyer admitted the comments he made were unnecessary and inappropriate personal attacks on a fellow law society member according to the decision.
Further, on March 23, 2015, Blenner-Hassett left a voicemail message on the answering machine of a prospective employer of S.V., referred to as “W.S.” in the decision.
“In the voicemail the Member spoke negatively about [the Crown prosecutor], saying S.V. is ‘very unethical, very adversarial, very sharp, very dishonest… very mean, very nasty… outright lying in certain cases,’” the decision read, and added Blenner-Hassett said a “serious complaint” was filed against S.V.
The alleged serious complaint against the Crown prosecutor was investigated and warranted no further action by the law society.
“These comments were not made within confines of a heated litigation matter,” the decision read regarding the voicemail. “Rather, they were a calculated attempt to damage the reputation of S.V. and impact her employability.”
While Blenner-Hassett accepted responsibility for the voicemail, and expressed remorse, the law society’s decision noted he tried to “obfuscate and deflect blame.”
The decision handed down on May 30, 2018 stated this wasn’t Blenner-Hassett’s first time in hot water.
In May of 2009, the defence lawyer was involved in an informal conduct review, regarding more inappropriate and abusive correspondence to an unrepresented litigant, identified as L.B.
Almost five years later, in February of 2014, Blenner-Hassett was involved in a formal disciplinary hearing regarding other communications with another lawyer, who was representing the litigant who was part of the informal conduct review in 2009. The defence lawyer agreed to forgo civil defamation proceedings in exchange for the withdrawal of a complaint to the law society.