‘A poor choice’: Alberta lawyer suspended for allowing nude photos in custody case
|Toronto Star 15 Jun 2021 at 17:58|
EDMONTON - The Law Society of Alberta says criminal charges may be warranted against a lawyer who allowed sexually explicit photos of a woman to be included as part of an affidavit in a custody case.
The self-governing body has sanctioned lawyer Karen Herrington of Sherwood Park, Alta., for bringing the administration of justice into disrepute and failing to provide competent legal services. She has been suspended for one month and ordered to pay $5,400 in costs.
Herrington was representing the husband in a common-law custody dispute.
The law society says the husband sent an affidavit to Herrington that was aimed at preventing his former partner from leaving the province and included intimate photos of her.
Herrington asked other members of her law firm what she should do, but ultimately decided to include the pictures in the affidavit, the regulator says.
“It was thought by Ms. Herrington that the pictures showed a pattern of behaviour from the wife and that she needed the affidavit for the emergency application the next morning,” Ryan Anderson from the law society wrote in the ruling.
“She consulted other lawyers in her office for their advice and made this decision to proceed. This does not leave Ms. Herrington blameless, but goes to show this was not a simple situation,” he said.
“Ms. Herrington appears to be a capable lawyer who made a poor choice.”
The opposing lawyer asked that the nude photos of his client be removed. They were blacked out before being filed in court.
Herrington admitted her guilt in that she failed to provide legal services to the standard of a competent lawyer and said it was an error to include the nude and explicit pictures.
Law society lawyers noted that Herrington may have broken the law under the Criminal Code for publication of an intimate image without consent.
They recommended the file be sent to the Alberta justice minister to see if charges are warranted.
“The Committee finds that there are reasonable and probable grounds that Ms. Herrington contravened Section 161.1 of the Criminal Code and as such we are obligated to make a referral to the Solicitor General,” the panel found.
“Ms. Herrington may very well have a defence but that is not up to our committee to decide.”