15 months’ suspension for lawyer over ‘exhibitionist’ Facebook posts on pending cases

SINGAPORE – A lawyer who made social media posts on pending courtroom proceedings and tried to garner public assist for his disobedience of a courtroom order to pay prices was suspended for 15 months on Tuesday (April 12).

The Court of Three Judges, which has the ability to droop or disbar attorneys, mentioned the conduct of Mr Zero Nalpon “demonstrated a wilful disregard for the professional standards expected of legal practitioners”.

His Facebook posts had been “exhibitionist and self-aggrandising” on the expense of the integrity of pending courtroom proceedings and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) in its reliable makes an attempt to hunt his compliance with the prices order, mentioned the courtroom.

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It discovered that one in every of Mr Nalpon’s posts amounted to contempt of courtroom, because it prejudged a problem that was pending earlier than an enchantment decide.

In suspending him, the courtroom additionally took into consideration the very fact that Mr Nalpon, who has been a lawyer for 26 years, has comparable disciplinary antecedents.

In 2014, he was censured by the courtroom for making offensive remarks in opposition to sure deputy public prosecutors (DPPs) in letters to the Attorney-General and disseminating these letters to 3rd events with the intent to humiliate these DPPs.

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The present disciplinary motion stemmed from a case the place Mr Nalpon’s consumer was convicted and sentenced over a drug consumption cost by a district decide in September 2018.

In February 2019, Mr Nalpon revealed on a public Facebook group materials regarding the enchantment proceedings. 

In a put up on Feb 11, he hooked up a duplicate of his letter to Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, by which he criticised the district decide for plagiarism.

Mr Nalpon alleged that the district decide’s written judgment was “useless and unfair” as a substantive portion was copied from the prosecution’s submissions.

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Later that month, the Attorney-General directed Mr Nalpon to cease publishing the fabric. Mr Nalpon eliminated the posts.

In April 2019, he failed in an utility to put aside the path and was ordered to pay $2,600 in prices to the AGC.

On June 7, 2019, Mr Nalpon handed a cheque to the AGC, made payable to “The Attorney-General”.

A prosecutor informed Mr Nalpon that the cheque ought to be made out to the “Attorney-General’s Chambers” as a result of there is no such thing as a checking account within the title of the Attorney-General.

Mr Nalpon then falsely alleged on Facebook that AGC had requested for fee to be made to a “separate entity”. He additionally uploaded the following change of correspondence to the Facebook group.

Later that month, two complaints had been lodged with the Law Society on behalf of the Attorney-General – one regarding Mr Nalpon’s posts on the enchantment, and the opposite regarding his conduct over the prices order.

In June 2021, a disciplinary tribunal discovered Mr Nalpon responsible of 4 misconduct costs.

After his case was referred to the courtroom for disciplinary motion, Mr Nalpon issued an uncrossed cheque in favour of “The Attorney-General” on Dec 29, 2021.

On Tuesday, the courtroom mentioned Mr Nalpon’s Feb 11 put up posed an actual threat of prejudice to or interference with the pending enchantment proceedings.

This was as a result of the extent and impact of the district decide’s copying had been points which had but to be adjudicated, mentioned the courtroom.

As for the prices order, the courtroom mentioned that non-compliance, in and of itself, didn’t quantity to disciplinary misconduct.

The courtroom mentioned what rendered Mr Nalpon’s conduct “beyond the pale” had been his “transparent attempts” to garner public assist for his disobedience of the prices order.

“We thus find this stand of Mr Nalpon’s not only wholly incomprehensible, but also clearly mischievous, as he took his campaign to the (virtual) streets,” mentioned the courtroom.

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