High-profile lawyer's career in balance

High-profile lawyer Chris Comeskey may be struck off after he pleaded guilty to three professional misconduct charges in a Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal in Auckland today.

Comeskey pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to act appropriately for a client, one charge of misleading the Court of Appeal and one charge of submitting a false invoice to legal aid.

He changed his position when the tribunal reconvened in Auckland this afternoon.

He initially faced nine charges relating to thousands of dollars of incorrect billing to the Legal Services Agency, misleading the Court of Appeal and making disparaging comments about judges and the courts.

The charges relating to the disparaging comments were withdrawn.

This morning, the tribunal was presented with a diary entry showing four court appearances.

One entry showed Comeskey had appeared but three showed it was his junior counsel who had appeared.

An invoice for legal aid for all four sessions was produced.

Comeskey admitted billing an invoice for $3157, all at the senior rate of $154 an hour, even though he did not appear in court himself.

Comeskey is known for defending high-profile clients including Millie Elder, stepdaughter of broadcaster Paul Holmes, who appeared on drug charges, Bruce Emery, who was convicted of stabbing to death a teenage tagger, and wife-killer Nai Yin Xue -- the father of abandoned girl "Pumpkin". He was also involved with brokering the return of the stolen gallantry medals from Waiouru Army Museum.

The New Zealand Law Society is applying to have Mr Comeskey struck off as a lawyer, and a hearing is expected to be held next Thursday.




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