Former Quebec law society president back in the spotlight

Lu Chan Khuong, the former president of the Quebec legal society who reluctantly resigned after a bitter and protracted fracas with the board of directors of the Barreau du Québec, is back on the spotlight.

Barely a few weeks after the Barreau and Khuong locked horns once again, the prominent Quebec City lawyer announced she will be collaborating on a French-language radio show that will speak about law in plain language.

The embattled former president of the Quebec Bar has raised the possibility that she may yet come back to seek another term if her electoral platform is not fulfilled by the new president, but Khuong has denied that collaborating on the radio show is part of an overall public relations campaign to boost her image for the 2017 elections. “My principal motive it to make citizens understand the legal system,” said Khuong.

The surprising move comes weeks after the law society castigated Khuong for neglecting to submit a detailed report of her expenses and revenues incurred during last spring’s hard-fought electoral campaign to become head of the Barreau. Khuong instead sent a letter to the law society stating simply that she had incurred $93,000 in expenses, which she had covered personally. She also stated that did not receive a single donation. But the Barreau’s electoral committee said that Khuong’s letter did not spell out detailed information about expenses she may have incurred.

Khuong dismissed the censure by the Barreau as frivolous and far-fetched. “I give no credibility to this committee which is composed of avowed political adversaries,” said Khuong.

Khuong was elected president of the Barreau du Québec last May with 63 per cent of the vote, but was suspended by the Quebec Bar’s board of directors on July 1 after confidential information was leaked to the media that she had been arrested on suspicion of shoplifting two pairs of jeans in Laval. Khuong, who maintains her innocence, was never charged.

However under the counsel of her lawyer Khuong accepted an offer of non-judicial treatment to avoid media coverage that likely would have taken place during a trial, particularly since she is well known in the province and is married to former provincial justice minister Marc Bellemare. Under the non-judicial program for minor offenses, a record of the alleged infraction is held for five years in a confidential registry that is accessible only by Crown prosecutors. The slate is wiped clean after five years if the person is not charged with another offence. More than 100,000 Quebecers have resorted to the program since its inception in 1995. The Khuong case marks the first time that confidential information was leaked from the non-judicial program.

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