Judge Jock: Time to Pull Finger, Grave Charges Against Lawyer, Star Chamber Convened

Fancy being a Judge? Get Involved and Do Your Bit
Folk are wanted to serve on a host of New Zealand Law Society specialist committees – someone reckoned there’s about 154 of them at last count.

No experience required, all you need is to be passionate, enthusiastic, willing, keen and available – with an eye to a secure, privileged and well-pensioned future.

This way judicial openings are forged.

“Put me down for the Ladies & Escorts Lounge Alumni and Welfare Fund Committee,” said Our Man At The Bar, pondering the glass half full/half empty conundrum.

The curious conduct of Evgeny Orlov, Barrister
It’s not every day a lawyer accumulates a swag of complaints claiming he is not fit to do his job and should perhaps consider other work.

It is extremely rare for one of those complaints to come from the scathing pen of no less a concerned chap than the then Chief High Court judge, Justice Tony Randerson, now a member of the Court of Appeal.

But then it’s also not every day a lawyer is accused of acting disgracefully and dishonourably by making deliberate or recklessly false and scandalous allegations against a High Court judge, Justice Rhys Harrison.

Now, after thwarting and delaying the hearing of the complaints for five years – delays which were largely self-inflicted – Auckland barrister Evgeny Orlov faces judgment before the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal at a five-day hearing expected in September.

Lawyer Charged
Mr Orlov was charged under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 as a result of various complaints made against him to the New Zealand law society.

Having investigated the complaints, three committees of the law society decided not to deal with the complaints themselves but considered them serious enough to refer them to the disciplinary tribunal.

Mr Orlov strongly objected to the complaints being transferred to the tribunal and sought a High Court judicial review.

He faces a range of complaints – about a dozen – going back to 2007, including among other things allegations he swore an affidavit attacking another lawyer; failed to follow client instructions; got a clerk to take an affidavit she was not authorised to; incompetence in a habeas corpus application; made false allegations in a Family Court matter, along with various other complaints of misconduct and generally unsatisfactory lawyer conduct.

Is Lawyer Fit and Proper?
All of which is said to be enough to show Mr Orlov is not a fit and proper person to be a lawyer.

But what might be considered the eye-watering, boll*cks-crushing killer punch is the complaint from Justice Randerson.

As the then Chief High Court judge, he wrote to the president of the law society in December 2009 to raise for the president’s consideration with the relevant body whether disciplinary action should be taken against Mr Orlov and another Auckland lawyer, Frank Deliu.

Justice Randerson said the two lawyers had been engaging in a series of complaints about High Court Justice Rhys Harrison, now also a member of the Court of Appeal, in a number of forums.

In separate proceedings, Mr Deliu last year won a four-year court battle against Justice Harrison over a wrongly-imposed legal incompetency “fine”. A rare indemnity costs order imposed on Mr Deliu by Justice Harrison when he was a High Court judge was quashed by the Court of Appeal because the judge got it wrong. (How Justice Rhys Harrison was wrong for so long)

These included complaints to the Chief High Court judge himself, proceedings brought in the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, and proceedings brought in the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Justice Randerson gave examples of the conduct he complained of by Mr Orlov, included allegations Justice Harrison was biased; that the judge not be given cases filed by Mr Orlov; issuing proceedings against Justice Harrison alleging discrimination; complaining about the judge’s alleged hostility, bias and improper conduct; erasing material on the court record and complaining to the Judicial Conduct Commissioner about how he was treated by Justice Harrison.

Lawyers Made Disgraceful Allegations Against Judge
Justice Randerson’s letter concluded with his view the conduct of Messrs Orlov and Deliu revealed an ongoing pattern of persistent, wide ranging and disgraceful allegations against Justice Harrison. Of the complaints which had been finalised, none had been found to have a proper foundation.

Mr Orlov challenged Justice Randerson’s complaint, claiming what he raised was trivial and no action should have been taken.

Among other concerns, Mr Orlov complained about the process of dealing with complaints against him, alleging the process breached his rights and natural justice.

Lawyer Incompetent, Says Another Lawyer
In another complaint to the law society, fellow barrister Shane Tait opposed Mr Orlov’s bid to practice on his own account in 2009, on the grounds Mr Orlov was incompetent.

Mr Tait said Mr Orlov had been frequently criticised by various courts for his performances and for what appeared to be lack of preparation and failure to follow court procedures.

In support of his allegation, Mr Tait produced a bundle of seven cases in which Mr Orlov had been involved.

In one of those cases a judge described interrogatories filed on behalf of Mr Orlov’s client as improper and suffering from “serious deficiencies” such that it was “a reasonable inference that they were not drawn up by counsel or by any legally qualified person”.

And so it went on.

Lawyer Only Got Himself To Blame
In throwing out Mr Orlov’s appeal on the grounds it had little or no merit, the Court of Appeal said there was no sound basis for judicial review.

Justices Lyn Stevens, John Wild and Christine French reinstated some disciplinary charges earlier quashed by Justice Paul Heath.

In observations particularly directed to Mr Orlov, the judges said that as a legal practitioner he was subject to his profession’s disciplinary regime.

“It exists primarily for the benefit of the consumers of legal services. That is, people who include Mr Orlov’s own clients,” they said.

“But it exists also for the benefit of all legal practitioners, not least Mr Orlov himself.”

One of the central objectives of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act was to provide for “a more responsive regulatory regime in relation to lawyers and conveyancers”.

By raising the numerous procedural objections their judgment considered and rejected, the judges said Mr Orlov had thwarted and delayed the disciplinary process and was complaining about these "largely self-inflicted" delays.

They said the hearing of all charges should be heard by the disciplinary tribunal without delay.

But Wait There's More
Mr Orlov confirmed to Judge Jock that, as part of his struggle with "fascist judges", he had filed an application for leave to appeal the Court of Appeal decision to the Supreme Court.

janderson@nbr.co.nz

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