Kelowna lawyer fined for swearing at RCMP officer loses appeal | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna lawyer fined for swearing at RCMP officer loses appeal

March 15, 2018 - 8:00 PM


KELOWNA – A B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld a decision by the Law Society of B.C. to punish a Kelowna lawyer for a heated exchange he had with an RCMP officer in a Kelowna courthouse hallway seven years ago.

Martin Drew Johnson practices criminal defence and personal injury law. In 2014 the Law Society suspended his licence for 30 days and ordered him to pay just over $10,000 in fines for an argument with an unnamed officer March 9, 2011.

According to an Appeals Court decision released earlier this year, Johnson was representing a client who was being tried in Provincial Court on an assault charge.

“After the complainant completed her testimony, the trial adjourned for the afternoon break,” Justice David Frankel writes. 

Johnson asked Constable B to go to the former home with his client to collect his belongings.

Constable B refused and the situation became “heated and volatile.”

When Johnson asked the officer a question, Constable B replied, “Don’t for a minute think that I don’t know who you are or what you are about.”

Frankel says Johnson then said, “fuck you” to the officer and they came “very close together, almost nose to nose. Their chests or stomachs were touching,” Frankel says.

“You don’t scare me, you big shot lawyer,” the officer said and accused him of assaulting a police officer.

“You are assaulting me,” Johnson said.

“You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen an RCMP assaulted,” the officer replied.

The officer then handcuffed and arrested Johnson in the hallway of the Kelowna courthouse.

Despite attempts by the officer, Crown counsel declined to approve any charges of assault, but the Law Society said they expect more from their lawyers and fined him more than $10,000. They also suspended his licence for one month.

Johnson appealed the decision, but a three-member hearing panel unanimously found his use of the “F-word” constituted professional misconduct.

Johnson took the matter to the B.C. Court of Appeal on Jan. 29, 2018.

“I conclude that, while the remarks of (Johnson) are understandable, they are not excusable and constitute a marked departure from what the Law Society expects of its membership,” Frankel ruled. “I feel that a reasonable and proper response from (Johnson) was to say nothing further. He should have bitten his lip and walked away.”

The appeal was dismissed.

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