Tribunal rejects ex-lawyer's bid for re-enrolment despite PM name drop

The tribunal said it was "unimpressed by a suggestion of support when there is none"

Tribunal rejects ex-lawyer's bid for re-enrolment despite PM name drop

The Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has rejected disbarred lawyer John Dorbu’s application for re-enrolment despite Dorbu suggesting that Prime Minister Christopher Luxon supported his application, reported the NZ Herald.

Dorbu, who had his name legally changed to James McConnor in 2018, was struck off in 2011. Last month, he applied to the Law Society for the reinstatement of his practising certificate, telling the tribunal in a statement published by the Herald, “I am a new person now”.

In his application, McConnor included an affidavit referencing alleged “profoundly inspiring” discussions with Luxon on “faith and aspirations”. But in a judgment publicised last week, the tribunal said that there was “no indication that the Prime Minister knows of, or supports, his application”.

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The Prime Minister’s Office also indicated to NZME that Luxon was not aware of the application.

“We are unimpressed by a suggestion of support when there is none”, the tribunal said.

McConnor’s application lacked formal support from any other lawyer, and during his hearing, he acknowledged that other lawyers he cited as possible mentors would likely be surprised by his use of their names in his support.

The tribunal noted McConnor’s failure to address past incidents, saying he “fudged” his answers by claiming “the past wasn’t me.”

“Instead of fronting up to those things where he had been criticised in the past, Mr McConnor avoided and obfuscated them. We formed the view that he would prefer to close his mind to this uncomfortable material, and for the rest of the world to do likewise”, the tribunal said.

McConnor’s practising certificate was revoked largely due to his role in a property deal that involved attempts to nullify a signed sale agreement.  He also accused a High Court judge of racism, challenged a former Law Society member’s credibility, and made misleading statements to an Australian court about his issues in New Zealand.

Recently, McConnor also filed defamation claims against Auckland Transport and Baycorp after being fined $150 for driving in a bus lane – a suit that was of concern to the tribunal.

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of the litigation, it has the appearance of hubris and disproportionality about it, both traits that concern us”, the tribunal said.

The tribunal concluded that McConnor’s case was “not a borderline case” and deemed that re-enrolling McConnor would be unsafe for the public and the profession’s reputation.

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