Law Society of British Columbia suspends former president of the Vancouver Bar Association

Prominent criminal lawyer Glenn Orris admitted to communicating with members of a jury panel to advance his client's interest

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      Since being called to the bar in B.C. in 1973, Glen Orris has represented the accused in some high-profile criminal cases.

      He advocated on behalf of John Horace Oughton, the infamous Paper Bag Rapist. Oughton was convicted of 14 sex-related offences committed in the 1970s and 1980s.

      Orris was also the lawyer for Rocky Rambo Wei Nam Kam, who was convicted of the grisly murders of Dianna Mah-Jones and her husband, Richard Jones, in their Marpole home in 2017.

      In addition, Orris has been president of the Vancouver Bar Association and was a member of the Canadian Bar Association executive.

      But beginning on December 2, he'll not be allowed to practise law for three weeks. That's as a result of communicating with members of a jury panel to advance or protect his client's interest.

      In a consent agreement on the Law Society of B.C. website, Orris acknowledged that he committed misconduct on April 25, 2019.

      "Outside the locked courtroom doors, while awaiting court to commence, Mr. Orris responded to a question regarding the 'faint hope' process and two (2) comments," the consent agreement states. "While Mr. Orris was standing by the door to the courtroom, one of the members of the jury panel asked him 'What kind of hearing is this? Isn’t it up to the parole board?' (or words to that effect). Mr. Orris responded to the question by stating something to the effect of 'The hearing was simply to determine whether his client’s pre-determined parole ineligibility could be reduced. The ultimate release would be determined by the parole board'.

      "A further question was then asked by either the same person or another jury panel member close by. It was to the effect of 'Do we have to decide what he did?'," the consent agreement continues. "As the crown and defence had an Agreed Statement of Facts which was to be filed as part of the proceedings, Mr. Orris answered to the effect that 'The parties had prepared an agreed statement of facts as to what happened in relation to the murder, and that was something the jury would not have to decide'."

      At that point, Crown counsel returned to the door and asked to speak to Orris. He told her that he was "just answering questions with information that they had already been told or was not in issue".

      The consent agreement noted that Orris was "cooperative and apologetic when the matter was brought to the attention of the trial judge".

      Back in 2012, Orris was in the news for exchanging workout tips with a juror in the midst of a murder trial involving one of his clients.

      The trial judge, William Smart, ruled that there was "no reasonable apprehension of bias" because they were talking about weightlifting, not criminal matters.

      Many years ago, Orris argued a landmark case in the Supreme Court of Canada regarding judicial instructions to a jury. His client, Jody James Gunning, had been convicted of murder after shooting and killing a trespasser who didn't leave his home during a party.

      In this case, Orris successfully argued that the trial judge had made errors in communications with the jury so the conviction was set aside and a new trial was ordered.

      Orris played in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He was also a wide receiver from 1966 to 1969 with the SFU football team.