Law Society Tribunal suspends lawyer for misconduct over abusive emails sent to litigant
From the NZ Law Society –
John Paul Schlooz has accepted two charges of misconduct in relation to abusive emails he had sent to a litigant in person over an extended period.
The complainant was the estranged wife of Mr Schlooz’ close friend. The complainant was acting for herself in relation to a number of disputes that she had with her former husband. Mr Schlooz was acting for his friend in relation to all of these disputes.
There was a considerable amount of correspondence between the complainant and Mr Schlooz, but the subject of the charges were the email exchanges between 1 February 2019 to 17 November 2019.
The Tribunal felt it “insufficiently illustrative of the concerns raised by this case to simply describe them in bland terms such as “abusive”, “disrespectful”, or “offensive” and included some of the worst examples in its decision.
One such example in the Tribunal’s decision was “… In the land of the witless you would be Queen. You are the reason god gave us a middle finger. We regard you with an indifference that borders on aversion. If we throw a stick, will you leave? People clap when they see you; they clap their hands over their eyes.” (17 November 2019)
The complainant found the exchanges so distressing that she applied for a Harassment Order in the District Court which was granted in May 2020.
In condemning the behaviour, the Tribunal stated “Under the more specific heading of abuse of the privileges of being a lawyer and bullying an opponent, particularly such as the complainant in this matter, this case is at the high end of the scale of seriousness.”
The Tribunal considered all relevant aggravating and mitigating factors, including: the repeated and sustained nature of the abusive language and threats, the level of misogyny present in the abusive comments, the practitioner’s previous good character and his financial commitments.
Ultimately Mr Schlooz was suspended for 4 months, issued a censure and ordered to pay costs of approximately $25,000.
In its censure, the Tribunal expressed its view of Mr Schlooz’ behaviour “Mr Schlooz, your conduct towards Ms Y was utterly appalling. No member of the public or indeed any person dealing with in a professional capacity ought to be subjected to the repeated abusive, offensive, belligerent, threatening and downright nasty and personal statements used by you.”
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