Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Moral Fibre

The Upper Canada Law Society Tribunal Hearing Division has denied a paralegal license

On November 24, 2016, Ms. Valiente applied to be licensed as a paralegal. In her application, Ms. Valiente disclosed that approximately three years prior, while under the influence of an abusive relationship and addicted to crystal methamphetamine, she had a number of convictions for Fraudulent Use of Credit Card Data and Breach of Probation. This hearing was held to determine whether she is currently of good character.

Ms. Valiente was an impressive witness and has accomplished much in the three and one-half years since her last arrest. She has returned to live with her parents, gotten off drugs, undergone therapy, taken a part-time job, graduated from a two-year paralegal program, returned to her church, paid one restitution order of $7,000 (but not a second judgment for $10,000), completed 165 hours of community work and started working full-time outside the legal services world.

Despite those many accomplishments, we were not satisfied that sufficient time had passed or evidence led to enable us to conclude she is currently of good character. Ms. Valiente did not call independent evidence of her good character primarily because she had not disclosed her criminal past to those who might have provided that testimony. In those circumstances, we were not satisfied that she had the moral fibre to do what was right in uncomfortable situations. Ms. Valiente is still on probation, has not paid about $1,000 in victim surcharges and has not yet started to repay a $10,000 judgment in favour of a shop owner who was a victim of her criminal misconduct. We encourage her to complete her probation, work on the outstanding payments, reflect on her ability to acknowledge her past and apply again in future.

The applicant is 26 years old and was forthright in her disclosures

  Ms. Valiente has come a long way in the past three and one-half years, but that is a short time. She still has some work to do. She must complete her probation and make some outstanding payments. She must also learn to live with her past. She cannot choose to ignore it in circumstances where it is relevant.

Good character requires the moral fibre to do what is right no matter how uncomfortable that may be. Ms. Valiente is an impressive young woman but has not led evidence to persuade us that she has that moral fibre in uncomfortable circumstances. Ms. Valiente has not established that she is presently of good character.

The application is dismissed. We encourage Ms. Valiente to apply again after some additional time has passed.

(Mike Frisch)

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