A West Vancouver lawyer who assaulted a client, who was also his girlfriend – sending the woman to hospital – has been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Law Society of British Columbia.
In a decision May 21, a three-personal disciplinary panel found Michael Murph Ranspot guilty of two instances of professional misconduct.
One involved the assault of his client on Dec. 31, 2015.
A second involved Ranspot’s decision to loan money to his client, without ensuring that she got independent legal advice, and to represent her in family law proceedings while he was involved in a romantic relationship with her. That also constituted professional misconduct, the law society panel ruled.
According to the law society’s ruling, Ranspot and a woman referred to only by the initials CC were in a romantic relationship from April 2012 to Dec. 31, 2015 – the date of the assault.
On that day, a physical fight between the two resulted in CC being taken to hospital and Ranspot being criminally charged with assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.
Ranspot subsequently pled guilty to assault causing bodily harm and got a 16-month conditional discharge on March 8, 2017
While Ranspot admitted “that alcohol was at the core of his life problems during this period,” that did not take away his obligation to conduct himself according to the standards expected of a lawyer, according to the panel.
In explaining what happened to the law society, Ranspot stated that CC had “mental health and emotional issues” and “at times demonstrated extreme anger and violence towards me,” according to the decision.
“She attacked me. I defended myself. I suffered injuries,” he wrote to the law society.
The panel determined that Ranspot was “clearly not remorseful, nor was he taking responsibility for himself.”
Not to address the impact of Ranspot’s “blatant disregard” for the social responsibility he holds as a lawyer “would most certainly erode the public confidence in the profession,” the panel wrote.
Ranspot’s actions in acting as his girlfriend’s lawyer in her family law proceedings against her common-law husband – begun in March 2013 - and lending her money without ensuring she got the advice of another lawyer also crossed the line of acceptable conduct, the panel ruled.
“The panel finds that these circumstances are the result, on so many levels of a stunning lack of judgment. This conduct can only amount to ‘gross culpable neglect of his duties as a lawyer’” the panel wrote.
Ranspot, who is in his early 60s, was first called to the bar in 1985.
He was previously suspended from practicing law for 18 months in 1997.
He began practicing again in 2001.