Complaint against Yellowknife lawyer dismissed
Peter Harte faced disciplinary hearing after youth witness left school to testify without mother's knowledge
The Law Society of the Northwest Territories has dismissed a complaint against Yellowknife lawyer Peter Harte.
Harte appeared before a disciplinary hearing in late September.
He'd been accused of acting in a way that "did not reflect favourably on the legal profession" after failing to inform the mother of a 15-year-old boy that her son was being taken out of school to testify in a trial.
"It was incumbent on Mr. Harte to take steps to ensure [the boy's] custodial parent [his mother] was aware he would testify," argued the Law Society's lawyer at the hearing.
Witness 'not compelled to testify'
"While I can keenly appreciate [the mother], indeed any parent, would wish to have prior notice of her son's intention to testify, I do not think that the absence of such notice in these circumstances deserves a sanction against Mr. Harte," wrote the sole adjudicator Andrew Fox, in a decision delivered last week.
The youth "was not compelled to testify — not dragged onto the witness stand, metaphorically or otherwise," wrote Fox.
And he wrote the witness was "a young man, not a child of tender years."
Had the adjudicator determined Harte had breached professional standards, he could have faced a fine of up to $2,000 and other disciplinary measures.
Law society hearings can be sparked by a complaint from the public, other lawyers or an investigation started by the society.
It was not clear from the hearing who initiated this investigation.