Tom Lee / Stuff
Debbie Paulson Wilson’s week-long relationship with a prisoner caused her to be suspended from practice for 12 months. (Photo from file)
An Auckland lawyer has initiated a relationship with a prisoner, using a false name to get on the prisoner’s call list and planning to deliver chocolate behind bars.
The lawyer, Debbie Paulson-Wilson, was suspended from the profession for 12 months after being found guilty of serious misconduct.
According to a recent decision of the Disciplinary Court of Lawyers and Transporters, Paulson-Wilson had only a few months into his career when he began his relationship with the prisoner in late 2019.
Her employer asked her to call the prisoner to let him know that he had no reason to appeal his conviction and sentence.
SEE MORE INFORMATION:
* Lawyer censored and suspended for “abusive and misogynistic” emails to client’s ex-wife
* Prison Officer Charged with Blocking Inmate’s Phone List after Inappropriate Relationship
* Featured Attorney Marc Cropper Suspended for Three Months
However, Paulson-Wilson and the prisoner, who was identified only as Prisoner X in the decision, continued to have contact for about a week.
She used the alias “Lucy Pance” to make her call list and Serco Prison authorities recorded six calls between the two.
THE DETAIL / RNZ
The RNZ detail analyzes the fiercely opposing narratives in last year’s six-day stalemate at Waikeria Prison and how the protests continue to impact.
According to the call logs, they talked about Paulson-Wilson’s plan to deliver chocolate and pens to Prisoner X, as well as a plan to lie to her employer so she could visit Prisoner X in prison.
They also talked about the possibility of sexual contact between them in a future meeting and discussed following each other on Instagram.
In early November, Paulson-Wilson’s employer received reports of the conversations. He suspended her and then dismissed her for misconduct.
The court said that Paulson-Wilson, who now lives in Australia, “has abused her privilege as a lawyer to gain access to Prisoner X.”
She knew her actions were wrong and “actively tried to avoid detection” by prison authorities and her employer, the ruling said.
“This was not a single lapse of judgment. The conduct persisted for just over a week in October 2019, until it was detected by the Penitentiary Department. ”
The court recognized that Paulson-Wilson was young and she described herself as “completely stupid”.
However, the stupidity of his actions “was not the main issue” – what was more important was the breach of trust and the degree of deception involved, he said.
“We have no hesitation in stating that such conduct is at the serious end of the spectrum of misconduct.”
Paulson-Wilson filed a three-month suspension from the practice would be appropriate, but the court suspended it for 12 months.
It also ordered her to pay $7,000 in costs to the Standards Committee, which filed the complaint.