Judge Jock Special Report: Is Dougie Taffs for breaking on a wheel???

Distinguished Westport lawyer Douglas James Taffs (59) is out of favour after attempting to escape a third drink-driving conviction by putting coins in his mouth and hiding the cord to the breath-testing machine.

Disturbing News Item:
Distinguished Westport lawyer Douglas James Taffs (59) is out of favour after attempting to escape a third drink-driving conviction by putting coins in his mouth and hiding the cord to the breath-testing machine.

What the papers said about this:
If anyone is wondering what this is all about, here are snippets from a recently published account in a Christchurch newspaper.

Mr Taffs was taken before the Law and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal this week to answer special charges brought by the New Zealand Law Society of being convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment and obstructing a police officer.

This is serious stuff:

The law society wants Mr Taffs suspended from practicing law – in other words thrown out of work – for two years.

Stern-faced guardians of exemplary standards have had enough of Mr Taffs’ antics and are determined – after about 30 colourful lawyering years - he should be taught a harsh lesson.

It was reported that, in March 2011, after playing golf and drinking at a Westport pub, Mr Taffs hopped in his car, police gave chase, caught up with him and took him to the station.

(News reports did not say how Mr Taffs – an occasional cross-dresser – was attired at the time).

At the police station Mr Taffs attempted to evade a breath test by hiding the cord to the machine and sticking coins in his mouth, thinking this would somehow cancel out his boozy breath.

Failing the test by not a lot, he was fined $4000 and disqualified from driving for 13 months – his third DIC conviction.

Some folk have been sent to jail for less.

Late last year he escaped a possible fourth drink-driving charge on a technicality because he was breath-tested on private property.

Says he would like not to drink at all

On his own behalf, Mr Taffs reckoned he did not have a drinking problem.

If the news reports can be believed, he claimed to spend $700 to $800 a month as a habitual taxi user and limit himself to four 7oz beers with friends.

As an adoptive West Coaster he might be considered almost tee-total. Almost.

He told the discplinary tribunal that in some ways he would like not to drink at all but when meeting up with mates they tended to have a drink.

His lawyer chum Paul McMenamin told the tribunal a penalty less than suspension was more appropriate.

But in reserving the tribunal’s decision, chairwoman Judge Dale Clarkson described Mr Taffs’ behaviour as a concerted and repeated effort to obstruct the law he was supposed to uphold.

Judgment is expected in a few weeks.

Wait, there’s more:

If Mr Taffs’ “trial” had been in the hands of those about the Ladies and Escorts Lounge, how might it have played out???

Here’s a peek at proceedings…

“ So, Mr Taffs, you appear today accused of general Tomfoolery, shifting your share of the blame and trying to get away with it…” said Judge Jock.

“Who’s the big fat b*stard sleeping next to you???” asked Our Man At The Bar.

“My learned counsel, M’Lud, the esteemed Paul “Hiccup” McMenamin, fresh from his recent triumphs at Schroeders Bar, girded of loin and fully primed to fight my corner…”

“If Your Graces please,” roared The McMenamin, lurching upright in full flight.

“You see before you a pillar of the Westport Bar, a champion of the underdog, a brief among briefs, a towering exemplar of the finest traditions and someone who can truly claim to be bigger than Ben Hur…”

“But greater than all this, Your Eminences, he prostrates himself before you a Bedean…A proud product of that finest nurturer of all that is good – St Bede’s College…Who did it hiiiiiis way…”

“Who among you would break this Dougie on a wheel???” bawled The McMenamin, flayling his arms about and dancing a wee jig on the Bench.

“He’s coming on a big rich, isn’t he???” sniffed The Scunner..

“And furthermore – speaking of getting rich -  Mr Taffs is sparing no expense in paying me to clear his good name…” bellowed The McMenamin.

“Er…hang on a minute, Big P, I’m not sure that’s in the deal…”a flushed Dougie squawked.

“Do we need to hear any more of this nonsense???”said Judge Jock.

"You won't be hearing from the other side," confided The McMenamin. "I hung one on him out the back at morning tea..."

“This fellow is clearly innocent of everything and for the umpteenth time a cruel victim of First Four Ships jealousy…Mr McMenamin, you are free to go…”

“It’s not him, numbskull, it’s the little bloke - the imp,” hissed Judge Jock.

The verdict:

“Stand up, Mr Taffs (“He is standing,” wheezed OMATB)…This tribunal agrees with everything said on your behalf…"

“We have taken into consideration your unselfish contribution to police staff retention in remote areas; your fondness for ladies’clothing; your assurance you take no more than three or four 7oz beers a day; your admirable history of commitment to the legal aid trough; your selfless support for the taxi sector; your previous service as a Hong Kong prosecutor and your life-long dedication to tax law.”

“All this and more makes you eminently qualified for the position you have applied for and therefore it is my pleasure to…”intoned Judge Jock…

Next time:
New Chief Justice a surprise to some…

Relevant Footnote:
Judge Jock did not recuse himself from this case.

He has known Dougie Taffs in and out of court for more than 30 years, photographed his wedding, the legendary after-match function and a few knees-ups in John Milligan’s Chambers to boot, shouted him the equivalent of a few kegs of beer, dragged him out of numerous scrapes, told lies as to his wherabouts, and backed his promotion to the Garden Ornament Board as well as enjoying many “7oz glass” escapades.

Judge Jock’s candid photo files tell more of the life and times of one of the South Island’s colourful lawyers and he takes no pleasure from the fellow's current pickle.

“Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel,” editorialised William Rees-Mogg, of The Times, in 1967, when challenging Rolling Stone Mick Jagger’s custodial sentence on a minor drugs charge.

Watch this space.

janderson@nbr.co.nz

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