Closing arguments near end in disciplinary hearing for Lyle Howe

Closing arguments near end in disciplinary hearing for Lyle Howe

The disciplinary hearing for suspended Halifax defence lawyer Lyle Howe is into its final days.

Howe made two attempts Monday to get an extension on the time he has to make his closing arguments. Twice, the three-member panel hearing the complaints against him refused to budge.

The Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, the body that regulates lawyers in the province, has accused Howe of professional misconduct and professional incompetence.

He has countered those allegations by saying he is a victim of discrimination and held to a higher standard than other lawyers.

Howe has said the only difference between him and other lawyers who make similar mistakes is that he is black and they are white.

At one point, Howe invoked comparisons between his case and cases of people "driving while black." He referred to the recent traffic stop Montreal police made on former Dartmouth boxer Custio Clayton. Like Howe, Clayton is black.

"No white lawyer would have to explain themselves like this," Howe told the panel.

Howe has also accused the society and some lawyers who complained about him of trying to cast him in the most negative light possible.

"The society would like you to think that I'm public enemy number 1 and I'm single-handedly causing all this havoc."

In his closing arguments, Howe said the allegations are exaggerated and, in some cases, play on a stereotype that black men are somehow threatening.

Howe is expected to conclude his arguments Wednesday.

The society will have one day next week to make its final rebuttal, at which point the panel will begin writing its report.

It has 60 days to complete that task, although panel members have indicated they may need more time to digest the 10,000 pages of transcript generated by 40 witnesses spread over the last 15 months.

The CBC's Blair Rhodes liveblogged from the hearing.