Vonda Pile’s time practising law in Barbados could soon be cut short.
Pile, who was convicted over a year ago of stealing almost $200,000 from a client and subsequently sentenced to three years in prison, was granted bail three months ago after filing an appeal.
That appeal is set to be heard by the Court of Appeal.
Weeks after leaving HMP Dodds, Pile shocked her colleagues and members of the public when she returned to work, representing her clients in the Magistrates’ courts.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, president of the Barbados Bar Association Rosalind Smith Millar revealed that the body was exploring certain options pertaining to Pile.
She pointed out that while some authorities had the power to lodge a complaint against Pile on the basis of the conviction they had chosen not to do so.
“Like everything else there is a due process that has to be undertaken. Now there is a limit to how much I can say about certain things, but I will say that the BAR Council has engaged its mind on these matters.
There are some authorities who could, as of right, take action, who seemed to have declined to do so, and now it will be for the BAR to take the necessary action, but you don’t just wake up one day and it just happens,” Smith Millar explained.
“There is a process that has to be gone through. We would have to get permission first to do what others can do without first asking for permission and we are engaged in that process.”
When pressed if it meant the BAR Association was looking to take action against Pile and prevent her from practising law she responded: “There are certain actions the BAR can take but the disbarment of an attorney-at-law lies at the door of the Court of Appeal. The BAR cannot disbar anybody. We have to go through the process and it will eventually get to the Court of Appeal. I hope it will not take a long time, but we can’t disbar anyone, we can only start the process and try and hurry it along as far as we can.”
Speaking on the recent conviction of another lawyer, Cheraine Parris, who was sentenced to four years in prison on Friday for stealing over $300,000 from a client, Smith Millar condemned her actions.
While she said Pile and Parris’ convictions did not qualify as a trend, she admitted they were two convictions too many.
However, the BAR president reminded Barbadians that they were just two attorneys convicted out of over 1,200.
“One is too many. Two is way too many. It shouldn’t be happening at all,” Smith Millar maintained.
“But the public has to put things in perspective; two out of 1,200 is not good, it should be zero. Secondly, if lawyers were not human beings they would not do these things. All manner of people commit offences and while lawyers are held to a very high standard of honesty and trust and they should not betray it, all kinds of people commit offences. It is not an excuse for lawyers, but it is not necessarily realistic to expect that it would never happen.
“What can the BAR do about it? Remind people of their duty and what is expected of them,” she added.
Smith Millar also expressed her regret that Parris’ victim Ashleigh Morrison had been wronged, saying she hoped no other client in Barbados would have to “suffer what she has suffered”. [email protected]