Victoria lawyer slammed by Supreme Court judge over eviction order delays

“(Joanna Lee) has made statements in court, both oral and written, that, to be charitable, border on dishonesty or are highly dubious,” wrote BC Supreme Court Justice David Crerar

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A Victoria attorney has been criticized in a BC Supreme Court ruling that found she used the court system to stay an eviction order against her and her mother.

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According to Judge David Crerar’s ruling, solicitor Joanna Lee was given a month’s notice to vacate her rented Victorian townhouse on February 11, 2021 after a neighbor complained of excessive noise, which also resulted in the owners being taken off the shifts were fined. Police were called twice to the suite she shared with Lee’s mother.

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Lee then filed a dispute resolution request with BC’s condominium rental branch, requesting that the eviction notice be overturned, while denying making excessive noise in her suite.

On July 16, 2021 – after two adjournments due to illness – the RTB ruled against Lee in favor of the owners, who issued a writ of tenure four days later. On the day that order was issued, Lee also sought an RTB review of the July 16 RTB decision — but lost on July 27.

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The day before that ruling (July 26), Lee filed a petition with the Supreme Court to overturn the original RTB decision. On July 27, the court granted a temporary stay of the warrant of possession until August 5.

On August 19, the Supreme Court heard Lee’s case, with the judiciary refusing to stay the RTB decision and awarding the landlords the costs. Five days later, Lee appealed the Supreme Court decision. Then, on September 1, Lee filed another motion with the Supreme Court to overturn the July 27 RTB decision and not overturn the July 16 decision.

She left the suite on October 21, 2021 and paid her entire rent.

The latest ruling found that Lee had not presented any compelling reasons for court interference in RTB’s decisions.

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Crerar said Lee deliberately delayed her eviction from the suite.

“Since the October 2021 Court of Appeals hearing, Ms. Lee has redoubled her delaying tactics despite the admonition and special costs imposed on her by the Court of Appeals. Despite this court’s clear condemnation of her duplicate petitions, she persisted in upholding both, which required a duplicate series of unnecessarily voluminous and largely overlapping materials and petitions, and served as the basis for her attempt to schedule two separate two-day hearings on identical facts.

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“She continued to seek adjournments at every step of the process. Leaving aside these earlier issues, at the actual hearing of this petition she tried to play the clock in order to achieve the de facto adjournment requested three times and rejected three times. She abused the process of this court by simply reading her materials instead of making precise and concise arguments as instructed,” Crerar wrote.

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She made oral and written statements in court which, to be charitable, bordered on dishonesty or were highly dubious. She implied that the court officials were being dishonest, denying that she was late for court (on both hearing days) or that she received a voicemail from the registry confirming the hearing.

“She implied that court staff were incompetent where no mistakes were made. She made frivolous, inflammatory, harmful and unfounded allegations of bias – which, as stated above, should never be taken lightly – against the judges at every stage of the proceedings.

“In her briefs she made unfounded and irresponsible attacks on the professional reputation of two of the defendants’ attorneys. She brought three improper ex parte motions in which she failed to provide the presiding judges with full and open disclosure, including critical and material information about previous orders and proceedings.”

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Crerar ordered special charges against Lee to be paid to the landlords.

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“These willful, calculated, multiple, and serial abuses of the court process by Ms. Lee — an attorney, court official, and bar association member purporting to be conducting a court case — speak strongly in favor of a special costs order. Your protracted and hesitant handling of the litigation was reprehensible, scandalous and outrageous,” he wrote.

Lee did not respond to a request for comment.

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