Swearing advocate cleared on medical grounds

2011-12-09 09:53

An advocate who told a judge “jou ma se p**s” in open court has been cleared of allegations of unprofessional conduct because of a medical condition.

The Cape Times newspaper reported today that the Cape Bar Council found Nehemiah Ballem’s condition “made him lack the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct”.

However, the council’s chairperson Alasdair Sholto-Douglas said they were not willing to divulge the nature of his illness because it was confidential.

Ballem swore at Western Cape High Court Judge Lee Bozalek earlier this year while court was in session, saying: “Jou ma se p**s, man. F**k you.”

A few days later, he told reporters he was drunk at the time, but that he was not sorry for his outburst. Some time after this, he was hospitalised, apparently for stress.

Ballem could not be reached for comment last night.

According to Sholto-Douglas, he had already resigned as a member of the Cape Bar and was unable to practice as an advocate. He would only be able to continue working if he could produce a medical certificate and if he had obtained the bar council’s written approval.

After a meeting yesterday, the bar council found Ballem not guilty on complaints of unprofessional conduct and conduct unbecoming of an advocate.

However, Ballem’s “foul, insulting and inappropriate” language and conduct was not in dispute and, in a statement, Sholto-Douglas took a hard stance against Ballem’s actions.

“Mr Ballem’s conduct represents a serious and flagrant departure from the standards of professional conduct required of an advocate,” Sholto-Douglas said.

The bar council had also conveyed its findings to Bozalek, as well as a formal apology from Ballem.

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