An alcoholic criminal defence lawyer — sentenced to six months in jail for trying to bilk a client out of $1,000 — has lost his licence to practise law.
Muhammad-Danish Munir was to surrender his licence after pleading guilty to professional misconduct at a Law Society tribunal Wednesday.
Munir, 48, admitted his fraudulent actions “constituted professional misconduct” and he must resign within 14 days or the society will revoke his licence, panel chairman David Wright said.
A teary-eyed Munir told the panel he “gave Ontario’s 30,000 lawyers a black eye. Now I’m going to walk away from this profession … that I loved more than anything.”
Munir was sentenced to six months in jail in September 2015 and is still serving a two-year probation for fraud under $5,000.
When Munir discovered the Crown would drop a sexual assault charge against a client in February 2014, he misled his client’s sister, the panel heard.
Munir lied that he needed $1,000 to bribe a corrupt cop and terminate the case. He warned that his client risked jail and deportation without the bribe.
The ploy backfired when the client’s sister contacted police officers, who set up a sting operation that culminated in Munir’s arrest.
In the sting, the client’s sister and an undercover officer met Munir to drop off the cash. Munir was recorded boasting, “Let’s just say I’m a magical lawyer,” adding that he was “one of the top 10” lawyers in Toronto.
Munir, who practised for eight years in Canada, said “alcoholism is my biggest problem and I stopped drinking the next day after I was charged.”
Doctors confirmed Munir hasn’t consumed alcohol for the past two years.
Munir will have the opportunity to apply to reinstate his licence in the future.
He “suffered from alcoholic brain damage, which was characterized by aberrant behaviour, binge drinking with frequent withdrawal episodes, withdrawal seizures and overall very poor judgment,” the panel heard.
Discipline counsel Deborah McPhadden said Munir wasn’t drunk when he betrayed his client. While his alcoholism impaired his judgment, Munir still “knew right from wrong,” she said.
Munir’s lawyer, Nadia Liva, said her client has “lost everything. He became a pariah of the defence bar.
“He pleaded very, very, very guilty at criminal court and notified the law society within seven days of being charged,” Liva added.