VANCOUVER — The Law Society of B.C. has ruled West Vancouver lawyer Michael Murph Ranspot committed professional misconduct when he decided to represent in a family law case his girlfriend, whom he subsequently lent money to and assaulted.
In a ruling released this week, the society’s disciplinary panel said Ranspot “decided to act for a client with whom he was in a personal, romantic relationship and to lend her money while still acting for her and without ensuring she had independent legal advice.
“He continued to represent her following a physical altercation resulting in criminal charges. The panel finds that these circumstances are the result, on so many levels, of a stunning lack of judgment.”
Ranspot was suspended for 18 months in 1997 and fined for professional misconduct in 2007. The panel has not set a date to determine what penalty he should receive in the latest ruling.
This case dates back to April 2012, when Ranspot began a romantic relationship with a woman described in panel documents as CC.
Their relationship ended on New Year’s Eve 2015 when he assaulted her, leading to her treatment in a hospital and a guilty plea from Ranspot in November 2016 to assault causing bodily harm (he was given a 16-month conditional discharge).
The panel heard that in March 2013, the woman had commenced a family-law proceeding against her common-law partner seeking a division of property, spousal maintenance and a protection order.
During the course of the contentious proceedings, Ranspot represented CC between March 2013 and mid-August 2013, and also in April 2014, June 2014 and September and November in 2015. Ranspot filed a notice of withdrawal of lawyer in February 2016, three months after the assault.
Before pleading guilty, Ranspot told the law society that CC had “mental-health and emotional problems” and “at times demonstrated extreme anger and violence toward me.” He further wrote that CC had “attacked me. I defended myself and suffered injuries.”
In its ruling, the law society said that “although the respondent pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm, it’s the panel’s view that, based on the above statements, the respondent clearly was not remorseful, nor was he taking responsibility for his actions.”
On Sept. 12, 2017, the law society issued a citation against Ranspot alleging two counts of misconduct, one related to the assault and the other to representing his girlfriend and lending her money without ensuring she got legal advice on accepting the loans.