Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut April 09, 2018 - 3:35 pm

Nunavut judge slams lawyers for sloppy work

“The lawyers in this case failed to do their due diligence”

STEVE DUCHARME
Nunavut judge Paul Bychok dressed down the lawyers who made a joint sentencing submission last week for a man who broke into Pond Inlet's Co-op store. Given the man's extensive criminal record, the proposed one-month sentence amount to little more than
Nunavut judge Paul Bychok dressed down the lawyers who made a joint sentencing submission last week for a man who broke into Pond Inlet's Co-op store. Given the man's extensive criminal record, the proposed one-month sentence amount to little more than "a slap on the wrist," Bychok wrote in his sentencing submission. (FILE PHOTO)

Justice Paul Bychok of the Nunavut Court of Justice accused lawyers of making sloppy sentencing submissions during a decision he delivered last week that threw out a recommended jail term for a Pond Inlet man guilty of breaking and entering.

“In my view, some lawyers who appear before this court have developed a cavalier attitude towards joint submissions,” Bychok wrote on Thursday, April 5, in a written decision for Lanny Kippomee, 36, who pleaded guilty to charges related to a break-in at the Pond Inlet co-op store last December.

Joint submissions by lawyers are negotiated recommendations for sentencing. These are often drafted in return for an offender’s guilty plea, sparing the court from spending time and resources on a lengthy trial.

Judges are expected to honour submissions presented to the court, but the submissions are “not sacrosanct” and judges can choose to depart from them, Bychok said, especially if the submissions themselves are not rooted in law.

“[Joint submissions] bring a high degree of certainty and efficiency to our busy courts when they are properly negotiated and responsibly presented to the court,” he said.

But Kippomee’s recommended sentence of one month in jail and 12 months of probation did not give sufficient weight to deterrence and denunciation, Kippomee’s past criminal record, or cite any relevant case law, Bychok told Crown lawyer George Dolhai and the offender’s lawyer, Sara Siebert.

Bychok said in his decision that if the lawyers in charge of the file had reviewed the relevant case law, they would have found that the appropriate range of jail time for breaking and entering was four to six months, not the one month proposed.

Police arrested Kippomee shortly after he was discovered hiding in the storage closet of the Pond Inlet co-op by the store’s owner during the morning of Dec. 8 last year, after stealing keys from the building’s office.

Kippomee was sober and deliberate at the time he committed the crimes, Bychok said.

The judge said the lawyer’s submission failed to recognize Kippomee’s 39 prior criminal convictions, including five for breaking and entering, as well as jail stints for more serious crimes like sexual assault and unlawful confinement.

And while the Crown argued that a one-month jail sentence was “a step up” from a suspended sentence Kippomee received for a break-and-enter charge in 2014, “he neglected the 18-month sentence the offender received in 2004 for the very same offence,” Bychok said.

The one-month sentence, in light of Kippomee’s criminal record, amounted to little more than “a slap on the wrist,” Bychok said.

After allowing lawyers a few hours to revisit their submission, they returned with a two-month sentencing recommendation that was still below the appropriate jail time for breaking and entering.

The judge cited two other recent cases in his decision where lawyers returned with more appropriate sentencing submissions after they were given a chance to review the case law.

Bychok said the reasoning by many lawyers practising in Nunavut appears to be that “we can clear this file from a docket with a joint submission.”

“In my long experience, it is the rare case when counsel come to court prepared to justify their joint submission with reference to relevant case-specific factors as well as [case law].”

Bychok sentenced Kippomee to a total of seven months in jail for the combined offences of breaking and entering and breaching his probation.

Kippomee’s jail term will be followed by a probation of 12 months.

“The words joint submission are not some form of magical incantation,” he said.

“The lawyers in this case failed to do their due diligence,” Bychok said, adding, “the joint submission in this case was not fair and consistent with public interest.”

  R. v. Kippomee 2018 Nunavut Court of Justice by NunatsiaqNews on Scribd

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(17) Comments:

#1. Posted by Evelyn Thordarson on April 09, 2018

This is a prime case where lawyers have way too many clients and don’t have the time to make proper submissions to the judge.Perhaps the Law School needs to pass more Inuit lawyers because obviously these lawyers are too over worked and are not doing due diligence to their clients.

#2. Posted by Unik on April 10, 2018

#1 Evelyn.
Are you suggesting being lax on graduating requirements? Quantity over quality?

#3. Posted by laughable on April 10, 2018

#1 the “Law School” or schools doesn’t need to pass anyone simply because of an overburden on the system. You have to earn the right to practice Law, regardless of who you are or where you live. I wouldn’t want someone defending me when they have been pushed through the program.

Your solution would prove no different, if you can’t commit and educate yourself,  who’s to say you would do any better.

#4. Posted by Funny sort of on April 10, 2018

#1 I am rarely surprised at the poorly thought out and facile comments you post. This one is no exception.

#5. Posted by disappointed on April 10, 2018

This is a prime case where a judge is using a proven to be ineffective “tough on crime” approach.  I am sure that these experienced professionals did have reason for their recommended sentence despite what the judge indicated in this statement. 

He has sentenced the accused to a longer term than he himself has cited as the standard term for the offense, what is his reasoning there?  It is clear from previous convictions that jail time and probation have not been effective in reforming this individual.  We need to take a look at the justice system as a whole rather than increasing sentences and attacking the legal professionals that are willing to work in the Nunavut system.

#6. Posted by Fair on April 10, 2018

Can someone clarify if this program is equal to what is taught in southern law programs?  The topic of ‘water down’ sometimes comes up for this program, teachers, etc.

#7. Posted by chrys on April 10, 2018

#1 Do you mean an NS type of law degrees? Why not make one on Word and print it out yourself?

#8. Posted by fed up on April 10, 2018

Well folks, like #1 commented, we sometimes just get fed up with what is happening and speak out.

#9. Posted by Evelyn Thordarson on April 10, 2018

As per usual the people who comment missed the point exactly what I suggest is what the Inuit have asked for is for their people get educated and become lawyers which by the way this law school is not a watered down version.Poster #4 what you write means nothing to me at least I add my name to all my comments why don’t you….  then maybe I will consider your comments.

#10. Posted by David Idlout on April 11, 2018

Evelyn Thordarson, who is stopping Inuit from getting educated and becoming lawyers? You make no sense at all! If anything, the Inuit have more opportunities to do so then any other group in the country.

#11. Posted by boris pasternak on April 11, 2018

as previously tried to make a point, what is the difference where a lawyer is schooled, are these the best major law schools can produce?

#12. Posted by Funny sort of on April 11, 2018

#9 Evelyn, I appreciate you taking the time to tell me how little consideration you have for my comment.

#13. Posted by Evelyn Thordarson on April 12, 2018

# 10 no one is stopping Inuit from becoming a lawyer there are many very smart Inuit people and lots who are not book schooled but very smart in their own right.
# 12 I value your comment it is a free world say what you like about me it is water off my back.

#14. Posted by Stupid on April 12, 2018

Evalyn..There are requirements to being a lawyer. Just because a person is smart doesn’t mean they can practice law. Give your head a shake. If educational systems were not watered down in the north maybe things would run a little smoother from education to healthcare to access to justice

#15. Posted by Evelyn Thordarson on April 12, 2018

# 14 I realize there are requirements to being a lawyer and I was not implying that an Inuk person could go for a law degree without an education.My goodness these comments have gone to the extreme and it really is true that people read more into someones comment then is necessary.

#16. Posted by It's in the judgement on April 16, 2018

#5:  “He has sentenced the accused to a longer term than he himself has cited as the standard term for the offense, what is his reasoning there?”

Nunatsiaq News, to its credit, does a great job of including judgement at the end of articles dealing with court cases. 

I agree that they could have been a bit more clear in setting out what happened here; I had the same thought. 

There were actually two charges in play in this case - one was a break and enter, the second was a breach of probation.

The Judge gave 5 months for the break and enter, and 2 months for the breach of probation, to be served consecutively for a total of 7 months.

#17. Posted by Kat Selkirk on April 17, 2018

Justice Bychok comes from a Crown Prosecutor background and this shows loud and clear in his decisions. It is totally offside to fault a defence lawyer for acting in the best interests of her client as compared to what his Honour deems the “public interest”.

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