Friday, February 19, 2021

Library Society Misappropriation Draws Suspension

A Hearing Panel of the British Columbia Law Society suspended an attorney for sixteen months with conditions on return to practice

the allegations against the Respondent, Kenseelan Goundan, are as follows:

1.      Between approximately June 25, 2017 and July 9, 2019, in the course of the Respondent’s employment as chief executive officer of B.C. Courthouse Libraries Society (“CLBC”), he:

(a)   misappropriated from CLBC some or all of $3,524.99 to which he was not entitled; and

(b)   submitted claims on 27 CLBC expense reimbursement claim forms, one or more of which the Respondent knew or ought to have known were either falsified to claim more than he had paid for those expenses or did not relate to CLBC business, or both

(“Allegation 1”)

2.      On or around June 22, 2018, in the course of the Respondent’s employment as chief executive officer of CLBC, the Respondent submitted claims on an expense reimbursement claim form dated June 22, 2018, one or more of which he knew or ought to have known were previously submitted to the Canadian Avalanche Association (“CAA”) for reimbursement and which did not relate to CLBC business, and in some cases were falsified

(“Allegation 2”).

The attorney, who admitted the above allegations, had previously been employed by the Law Society

From 1998 to 2017, the Respondent was employed by the Law Society of British Columbia; first as a Professional Conduct lawyer; and later as the Manager of Professional Standards and Practice Advice.

Mitigation

In the case at hand, there are mitigating factors that support a lengthy suspension with conditions rather than disbarment, including:

(a)   In his 29 years at the bar, the Respondent has not generated any discipline history;

(b)   The Respondent has admitted and accepted responsibility for his misconduct.  He has expressed great remorse for his actions.  He has fully reimbursed CLBC;

(c)   The Respondent has suffered a number of significant, traumatic events in his life.  While the experts do not all agree on the Respondent’s diagnosis, or the causal connection between the Respondent’s traumatic history and the misconduct in issue, they do agree that the trauma has had a significant, negative impact on the Respondent;

(d)   The Respondent has taken steps to rehabilitate himself and is committed to continuing with the treatment recommended by his treating therapist, Dr. Weideman.  The experts agree that the therapeutic process with Dr. Weideman is helpful to the Respondent and that such therapy should mitigate the chances of further misconduct by the Respondent;

(e)   The 12 individuals from whom the Respondent tendered letters of character reference consistently describe the Respondent as a person with integrity and good ethics and morals.  The references indicate that the misconduct at issue is entirely out of character for the Respondent; and

(f)   The practice conditions in the proposed disciplinary action are very restrictive.  Importantly, the experts agree that the risk of the Respondent reoffending is low, and agree that these conditions should appropriately manage the risk of the Respondent reoffending.

(Mike Frisch)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2021/02/a-hearing-panel-of-the-british-columbia-law-society-the-allegations-against-the-respondent-kenseelan-goundan-are-as-foll.html

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