The Minutae Of Stupidity: Renowned WA lawyer banned, ordered to pay $20k

Lawyers Weekly Australia reports n this spat that got completely out of hand. In normal times one would quietly shake one’s head but in times like this  the selfishness of both parties and their bitter squabbles reveals a level of stupidity, greed and ego that quite depresses this column


Renowned WA lawyer banned, ordered to pay $20k

A prominent WA lawyer has been barred from the courts for six months after a “toxic” family feud that led her to accuse a real estate agent of lying to a judge, and wrongly calling her ex-husband “a rapist”.

Nicole Young is a well-known lawyer having practised law in Perth since 2003. She has defended several high-profile accused, worked for the Aboriginal Legal Service and appeared in the mainstream media as an expert legal commentator.

However, after a bitter spat with local western suburbs real estate agent Tina Thorn, WA’s legal watchdog and the State Administrative Tribunal has found Ms Young guilty of professional misconduct and has banned her for six months, in addition to a fine of $20,000.

In what has been called a “corrosive personal dispute”, legal documents have revealed that Ms Thorn and Ms Young’s father Robbie – who lived next door to each other – were real estate rivals, battling for the same listings.

The court documents reveal that the case stems back to 2016 when Ms Thorn’s husband was convicted and jailed for serious sex offences, nearly 25 years after the crime.

Adam Patrick Thorn was found guilty of a 1992 sex attack on a young woman – but was eventually acquitted of raping her. He was jailed for five and a half years. Mrs and Mr Thorn divorced more than two years ago.

The court documents reveal that by using her “legal expertise”, Ms Young asked the District Court for a transcript of the court case, saying she wanted to “search any argument and subsequent ruling about the admissibility of the DNA evidence”.

Documents reveal, however, that this was actually Ms Young’s attempt to get ammunition for the family feud.

“The representation was misleading and deceptive in that the practitioner was not motivated to seek the decisions for the stated purpose but was motivated to seek them for the purpose of confirming the identity of the offender,” the SAT ruled.

“The practitioner’s conduct …. would be reasonably regarded as disgraceful or dishonourable to practitioners of good repute.”

The bitter feud had exploded in a heated phone call when Ms Thorn “threatened war” with Ms Young’s father.

Armed with the information she got from the court, Ms Young hit back on text.

“Your whole family is vile,” Ms Young said, via text. “You are a liar… and your husband is a rapist. You are a very poor judge of character.

“A normal person would hang their head in shame, not lie on the stand to protect a rapist.”

The SAT ruled that the message was “rude, offensive, insulting, intemperate, provocative, and discourteous”, and also factually wrong as Mr Thorn had been acquitted of the rape charge.

The SAT ruled Ms Young not to be granted a local practising certificate for six months, backdated to August 2019. She has also been ordered to pay $20,000 in costs to the Legal Profession Complaints Committee.