11 Oct 2016

Lawyer told Asian official to find a job in North Korea

12:59 pm on 11 October 2016

A lawyer angry at her case not being called told a court official she should find a job in Korea, a standards committee has heard.

The lawyer has been reprimanded and fined $1000 and ordered to apologise in writing to a registrar and pay $750 in costs.

The New Zealand coat of arms, seen here at the Rotorua High and District Court.

Photo: Radio NZ

The registrar complained to the New Zealand Law Society about the unnamed lawyer, who she said had approached the registrar's bench and demanded that her matter be called after an adjournment.

When she was told this could not be done, the registrar said the lawyer's behaviour became verbally offensive and unacceptable.

The registrar, who is of South East Asian heritage, said the lawyer told her that she should "go back to North Korea and work in the camp there".

The lawyer said the registrar had been unhelpful and that scheduling changes were frequently made to cases at that particular district court without notification to defence counsel.

She stated that she said "perhaps court staff who changed the dates and times of cases without letting defence counsel know might prefer to either apply for a job (or work in) a country that doesn't have defence counsel such as North Korea".

The standards committee said such a statement, in the presence of someone whose appearance could be seen as being of Asian descent, was capable of being taken personally and considered to be discriminatory in its intent.

The committee determined there had been unsatisfactory conduct, saying the lawyer had failed to promote and maintain proper standards of professionalism in her dealings with the registrar and failed to treat her with respect.