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Prolonged Lyle Howe hearing breaks Nova Scotia records

Hearing costing much more than than projected budget

This story contains a correction

Behind the heavy doors at the Hampton Inn, the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society (NSBS) continues to review the case against Lyle Howe.   Lara Lewis

A can of Canada Dry ginger ale opens with a snap and hiss, falling into a white mug with a black trim. Lyle Howe takes a quick gulp as the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society (NSBS) prepares to ask him a new round of questions. He wears a black suit, broken only by a set of bright, striped socks.

Howe wipes his forehead, perspiring visibly during the Monday iteration of his hearing at the Hampton Inn. The case against Howe has become the NSBS’s longest hearing to date, surpassing a previous record of 50 days.

Howe is an African-Nova Scotian lawyer accused of professional misconduct and professional incompetence; his license has been suspended since September.

The hearing began in December 2015 and has been spread out over the course of several months. As of Tuesday, it hit its 58th day, and is expected to continue into March. The NSBS’s 2016/17 business plan says that “in previous years, it was unusual to have more than five days of hearings.” However, the plan also describes longer hearings as part of “a national trend.”

Howe made headlines after being convicted of sexual assault in a 2014 trial, before it was overturned in September 2015. Later that year, the NSBS began the hearing after a series of  complaints filed against Howe between 2011 and 2014 suggested he violated seven separate professional regulations. They address a variety of claims, including that he engaged in conflicts of interest.

The actions of the NSBS were delayed due to Howe’s personal involvement in the criminal trial, said Darrel Pink, the NSBS executive director, in an email. That trial stemmed from the sexual assault allegations made against him in 2012.

“To date, the Society has spent more than $900,000 in all matters relating to Mr. Howe,” Pink writes. “This includes the various practice supports that were put in place, the reviews of his practice, two receiverships and the costs of the investigation and the hearing.”

This expense, which has cumulated since 2011, results in a net loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and more will be spent for future hearing dates. Pink says that there is no problem with the expense as it can be paid off by reserved funds. Regardless, he adds, it doesn’t need to be paid all at once.

During his hearing, Howe has called into question the proportionality of the barristers’ society’s response to allegations against him. Throughout it and through his previous trial, Howe has repeatedly claimed he is being unfairly treated and has faced scrutiny due to his race.

Howe’s hearing is expected to continue on March 21.

 

Correction: Jan. 11, 2016: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this story misstated that complaints against Howe found he violated seven professional regulations. Those complaints are the subject of review during Howe's ongoing hearing. Jan. 13, 2015: The story also misstated that Howe's hearing has cost $900,000 so far. In fact, that number includes not only Howe's hearing, but also other costs related to the Howe case since 2011. The story also mistakenly said that a $204,000 budget item in 2016 and 2017 was for "legal services regulation." That budget item was for prosecutions and hearings.

4 comments

  1. Is challenging black letter law for a neo-liberal crusade also a “national trend”? Even the guys at Oak Island would laugh at the Bar Society for the money pit that was the doomed Trinity Western lawsuit.

  2. I just hope u and Laura stay strong through all this .And until u work again cause u will b working again,I’m sure Laura’s swamped.Enjoy the time with the kids ! U got this !

  3. Note to readers: This article contains major inaccuracies that do not reflect the information provided by NSBS in response to the student journalist’s inquiry.

    This line contains two errors:
    Pink adds that the hearing has cost about $900,000 so far and that the NSBS has a $204,000 budget for legal services regulation.

    Here is the correct information provided on January 10 by Darrel Pink, Executive Director:
    • “To date, the Society has spent more than $900,000 in all matters relating to Mr. Howe. This includes the various practice supports that were put in place, the reviews of his practice, two receiverships and the costs of the investigation and the hearing.”
    • “The budget for 2016/2017 for prosecution and hearing costs was $204,000, including costs for legal fees, professional fees, receivers and custodians, and hearing committee expenses.”

    As for the $204,000 budget item for 2016-2017, this relates to prosecutions and hearings, and has absolutely nothing to do with the Society’s Legal Services Regulation initiative (http://nsbs.org/legal-services-regulation).

    We appreciate that students are still in training to be journalists but such glaring factual errors are simply unacceptable in any media publication, student or otherwise.

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