Friday • June 30, 2006
Lawyer M Ravi (picture), 37, is facing the prospect of a temporary suspension — or worse, having his licence revoked — for insolence toward a female district judge, a case that comes in the wake of several instances of improper court behaviour.
But Mr Ravi wrote a letter to the Law Society yesterday, decrying what he called "a serious miscarriage of justice".
He argued that his case did not warrant an appearance before the Court of Three Judges. That is the legal profession's top disciplinary authority with the power to strike an errant lawyer off the rolls or suspend him for a maximum of five years.
The Law Society's disciplinary committee had referred Mr Ravi to the highest body after hearing of the solicitor's rude behaviour during a trial presided over by District Judge Wong Choon Ning three years ago.
Mr Ravi's poor behaviour included speaking loudly while other cases were being heard, and remaining seated while being addressed by the judge.
Because Justice Wong lodged a complaint with the Law Society, the matter was brought before its disciplinary committee which last week ordered Mr Ravi to pay the Law Society costs of $2,000 and also decided to involve the Court of Three Judges.
Mr Ravi, who has forked out more than $5,000 for four previous transgressions, told Today that he would pay the latest penalty. But he insisted that the Law Society had no case against him.
He explained that Justice Wong had accepted his apology. And because she refused to testify against him, the Law Society should then have either dropped all the charges, or proceeded with the case without the judge's evidence, which could eventually lead to the charge not being proved.
However, neither course of action was taken, as the Law Society went on to amend the charges, resulting in a less serious case against Mr Ravi.
That confused the disciplinary committee, which chided the Law Society for not having understood the legal implications. But the committee still concluded that Mr Ravi should go before the Court of Three Judges because disrespect for judicial authority is "like poison transfused into the system little by little attracting less than serious attention," the committee said in its report.
"As a result of a series of misdirections, I am now a victim," Mr Ravi said in his letter.
When contacted, Law Society's communications assistant director Shawn Toh said he had not seen the letter.
"I don't know how the Council will respond. They may choose to ignore it or not," he added.
Mr Ravi, who is representing the Singapore Democratic Party's Dr Chee Soon Juan in a defamation case filed against him by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, received support from his client.
Dr Chee said that if Mr Ravi was suspended, it could deprive SDP leaders of legal representation.
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