The New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal has ordered that Davina Valerie Murray be struck from the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors.
This has been decided at a penalty hearing. On 16 December 2014, the Tribunal had found the former Auckland lawyer had been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment and that the conviction reflected her fitness to practise while bringing the legal profession into disrepute.
Ms Murray was convicted under the Corrections Act for delivering an Apple iPhone, cigarettes and cigarette lighter to her client in Mt Eden Prison. She was subsequently sentenced to 50 hours’ community work. The New Zealand Law Society declined to renew her practising certificate.
Law Society President Chris Moore says the offending had seriously threatened the easier access lawyers get to their clients in prison compared to that given to other visitors.
“Ms Murray’s actions were a flagrant disregard of the mutual trust and respect between a lawyer and prison authorities. The access rights lawyers enjoy are privileges which must be strongly respected and honoured by lawyers as they support our whole justice system.
“The abuse of that relationship has brought the legal profession into disrepute. It also caused a review of prison security and has resulted in increased restrictions on visits between lawyers and prisoners. The Tribunal decision is fully justified.”
No costs were ordered as Ms Murray was legally aided.
Ms Murray has filed an appeal to the High Court against the December finding that the disciplinary charge was proven.