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

Suspect in North Delta home invasion facing attempt murder charge

Blaine Robert Jackson, 37, of no fixed address, faces six charges in relation to this incident

Rooftop hatchlings ‘a nice addition’ to White Rock RCMP operations

Pair of seagull chicks hatched in ‘fenced playground’ on July 2

North Delta yoga studio’s Fridays at the Farm to benefit local animal sanctuary

The outdoor four-class series will benefit Perfect Pastures Animal Sanctuary in Ladner

‘Justice for Mona’ rally planned for Surrey

Security camera footage shows Mona Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check at UBCO

Sources receives $70K from SurreyCares

Funds will help with warehouse space for food programs in Surrey, White Rock, Langley

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Police nab three impaired drivers in one night in Maple Ridge

Ridge Meadows RCMP served 80 impaired driving infractions in June

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read