A bold approach in trying to win over the court
A Canadian court has lambasted a lawyer for making "sarcastic" and "scandalous" comments in his submissions.
Criminal defence lawyer, Efrayim Moldofsky, was appealing against his client's conviction of sexual and common assault. However, the Court of Appeal of Alberta was less than impressed with the lawyer's written submissions.
In a scathing judgment, the court said that Moldofsky's statement of facts should have been drafted with a "concise, accurate overview of the relevant evidence"; but instead, the lawyer "attacked the complainant's credibility", describing her as "lying", "evasive" and "argumentative"; and accusing her of providing a "ridiculous response" and a "fabricated perjurious testimony".
"We do not usually allow counsel to speak in this manner," said the judges, adding that the lawyer's "personal opinions and thoughts" were "irrelevant" and should not be "communicated to the court in this way."
The appeal judges criticised Moldofsky for his "poor form of advocacy" with his "repeated use of sarcasm". Moldofsky's attempt at irony was primarily aimed at the trial judge and complainant. The defence lawyer said that he "very much appreciated" the trial judge offering to explain the court process, "given my gross and utterly obvious incompetence." In another sardonic comment he said: "In the event that the blatant unfairness of this trial is not yet obvious, I will continue." And Moldofsky reserved some of his scornful remarks for the complainant: "the poor ‘victim’ continues suffering through her oppressive interrogation by this very evil defence lawyer."
The Court of Appeal also said that Modolfsky made "appalling" comments when he accused the trial judge of "cherry picking extensively from the transcript to massage his inappropriate comments". And perhaps the lawyer's "most egregious" statement, said the Court of Appeal, was referring to another recent judgment as "all but openly encouraging credibility-based wrongful convictions, a trend that court has been promoting for some time."
"These comments are well beyond the pale; some are scandalous," said the appeal judges. "The integrity of the administration of justice depends on lawyers knowing and respecting their professional obligations," the irate judges said, adding that Modolfsky's statement of facts fell "far below the acceptable standard".
The appeal judges refused to accept Modolfsky's submissions, postponed the hearing for a later date, and directed that the lawyer provide "a proper" statement of facts.