A Surrey lawyer has been suspended for a second time by the Law Society of British Columbia.
A press release issued by the society May 26 states that a hearing panel has ordered that John (Jack) Joseph Jacob Hittrich, who was called to the bar in 1986, be suspended for two months starting June 1 related to a finding of professional misconduct.
The Surrey lawyer is being disciplined for filing transcripts in court “without inquiring or informing himself about clearly marked restrictions on doing so” and providing to an expert and the Court of Appeal for British Columbia transcripts despite a court ruling he and his clients “did not have the right to access those transcripts.”
According to the Summary of Decision on Facts and Determination, Hittrich had been representing foster parents. The panel found he did not deliberately mislead the court but “the representations he made were reflective of his failure to inform himself of the relevant rules.”
He also has to pay the law society $12,985.19 in costs. The panel stated in its Decision of the Hearing Panel on Disciplinary Action that the “nature of the conduct here is one of repeated failures to appropriately deal with highly sensitive information.
Last year, Hittrich was suspended for three months after a Law Society of British Columbia determined he committed professional misconduct four years prior for “attempting to resolve litigation in favour of his clients through improper means” related to a letter he sent to the director of Child, Family and Community Services.
The letter threatened to expose alleged perjury by representatives of the director, “unless the director agreed to settle litigation as his clients proposed.”
“In making this threat, Hittrich attempted to influence the Director to exercise her statutory decision-making authority for an improper purpose,” the law society stated in June 2020.
Written reasons note the conduct at issue in this first matter occurred approximately September 2016, during Hittrich’s representation of foster parents who retained him after the director refused to consent to their adoption of a child in their care.
“Lawyers cannot say whatever they feel like in order to motivate or induce others to do things that they would not otherwise do,” the written reasons in the first case state.
– with files by Tracy Holmes