uLawPractice Blog

Ontario lawyer finally disbarred as ‘ungovernable’

Posted by uLaw Editorial Team on Oct 9, 2017 4:55:07 AM

After a flurry of alleged threats of violence spanning over several years in America, an Ontario tax lawyer was recently disbarred by a panel of Law Society of Upper Canada adjudicators in late September.




Joel Allan Sumner, 40, is currently facing 12 felony charges in the U.S., but until recently he was also a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, which removed his licence in its Sept. 26 ruling, deeming him “ungovernable” and liable for “conduct unbecoming”.

“The protection of the public, and its confidence in the legal profession, require that he not remain a licensee of the Law Society,” reads the decision.

Evidenced from numerous emails over the course of several years and recorded phone calls and voicemails, Sumner is believed to have advocated for violence against John Kochis, a retired San Bernardino District Attorney who once presided over the motion of a case involving Sumner many years ago.

Authorities suggest Sumner “embarked on a campaign of vigilante justice” against Kochis, even going as far to request the Hells Angels and Devils Disciples motorcycle gangs to make an arrest on the district attorney and to use “all lawful force...including popping two shots into the side of his head if allowed under law.”

After 38 years as a prosecutor, Kochis had thrown the book at a number of outlaw motorcycle gang members during his career. According to the ruling, Kochis became distressed once learning Sumner was asking Hells Angels to violently arrest him. 

Making matters worse, after several years of escalating emails allegedly from Sumner, Kochis says police eventually told him that Sumner phoned the police station once, claiming that he'd kidnapped Kochis "and was going to blow a hole in his head."

Whether Sumner actually is convicted of the numerous crimes he’s charged of, in both Ontario and California, LSUC adjudicators say the evidence against him is quite high, and that it’s quite clear Sumner abused his professional position and knowledge of law to justify his actions.

“Individuals, especially lawyers, cannot threaten death to those with whom they disagree,” reads the decision.

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