Scales of Justice. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Surrey lawyer suspended for professional misconduct

Three-month penalty imposed for letter sent to director of Child, Family and Community Services

The Law Society of BC has suspended a Surrey lawyer for three months, after a disciplinary panel determined he had committed professional misconduct four years ago.

According to a news release issued Friday (June 19), a Law Society panel ordered the suspension – which begins July 13 – against John (Jack) Joseph Jacob Hittrich for “attempting to resolve litigation in favour of his clients through improper means.”

The release cites a letter that was sent to the Director of Child, Family and Community Services which threatened to expose alleged perjury by representatives of the director, “unless the director agreed to settle litigation as his clients proposed.”

“In making this threat, Hittrich attempted to influence the Director to exercise her statutory decision-making authority for an improper purpose,” the release states.

Written reasons note the conduct at issue occurred in approximately September 2016, during Hittrich’s representation of foster parents who retained him after the director refused to consent to their adoption of a child in their care.

Responding to the complaint triggered by the letter, Hittrich wrote to the Law Society in October 2017, stating he had been “emotionally involved” in his clients’ cause, and believed his letter to the director “was within the bounds of proper settlement negotiations,” the reasons note.

“What I failed to appreciate at that time was that the Director was not just any party,” the excerpt of Hittrich’s letter to the society continues. “It had an independent duty to act in what it perceived to be the child’s best interests… As such, I simply did not see the ‘threat’ in my letter as improper at the time.”

Following a hearing that took place over three days in March and April of last year and included oral testimony, the panel found that the preparation and sending of Hittrich’s letter to the director “constituted a marked departure from the standard of conduct the Law Society expects of lawyers.”

“Lawyers cannot say whatever they feel like in order to motivate or induce others to do things that they would not otherwise do,” the written reasons state.

In ordering the three-month suspension, the release adds, the panel considered Hittrich’s professional-conduct record as well as the nature of the misconduct, which was found to have been “planned and committed for tactical advantage.”



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

LawyersSurrey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mission-born hockey prospect joins Hockey Canada’s national junior team’s development camp

Gage Goncalves added to roster of Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp

Sumas First Nation pilots eight-inch gill-net fishery in Sumas/Vedder River

Project in Abbotsford renews fishing practice and data gathering of chinook salmon

Abbotsford Police complete restoration of vintage cruiser

1965 Chevy Biscayne named ‘Carol’ in honour of inspector who died of cancer

Chilliwack home built in 1910 will be saved from demolition

The 110-year-old house on Hope River Road is being relocated to nearby Riverside Drive

Abbotsford woman starts petition to have B.C. government help with IVF costs

Jennifer Kuiken says cost of in vitro fertilization is too high for most people

Study suggests 8 times more people in B.C. infected with virus than confirmed

The study looked at anonymous blood samples collected for reasons unrelated to COVID-19

Commons finance committee to begin probing WE Charity’s volunteering contract

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has admitted he should have recused himself from the decision

Woman receives ‘extremely disturbing sexual threats’ while on Lower Mainland bus

The woman was riding the bus when she received threats of sexual violence from someone nearby

Canucks want baby bear cub at Aldergrove zoo named Huggy Bear

Greater Vancouver Zoo recently rescued three grizzly bear cub who need names

Police watchdog probes Vancouver arrest after man on bicycle left with ‘serious’ injuries

Police were searching for a man who was allegedly involved in a prior incident when they saw him on a bicycle

‘We’re not busting ghosts’: Northern B.C. paranormal investigators check out bistro

Paranormal North Coast British Columbia recently checked out PF Bistro at City Centre Mall.

Russian hackers seeking to steal COVID-19 vaccine data: intel agencies

It is believed APT29, also known as ‘the Dukes’ or ‘Cozy Bear’ was responsible

Twitter racing to unravel mystery cyberattack

Some of the world’s most prominent names had their Twitter accounts post invitations for an apparent Bitcoin scam

B.C. announces funding to support post-secondary students with disabilities

The province is investing $275,000 in the new BCcampus website

Most Read