A prominent lawyer in Nunavut and Ontario who's accused of forging divorce documents and illegally marrying two women has been suspended from practising in the southern province.
Beginning Tuesday, James Morton, who has law offices in Iqaluit and Hamilton, Ont., will be temporarily suspended from practising law in Ontario.
The order was issued following a hearing earlier this month. It is in effect until a panel changes or cancels the order on the consent of Morton and the Ontario Law Society, if fresh evidence is introduced, or if the charges are withdrawn, stayed or Morton is acquitted.
Morton has been charged with bigamy — marrying someone while already married to another person — procuring a feigned marriage and other forgery-related accusations. He allegedly forged false documents to divorce his wife, a justice of the peace in Newmarket, Ont., in order to marry his law clerk.
In an affidavit filed as part of the hearing on whether Morton's licence would be suspended, Brian Borg, an investigator at the Law Society of Ontario, said police told him they have evidence that Morton's divorce certificate is not genuine.
Det. Const. Rosa Sposata, of the York Regional Police Service's financial crimes unit, is the officer in charge of Morton's criminal investigation.
According to Borg, Sposata said forensic analysis found the signature on the certificate does not match the clerk's handwriting or signature. The Superior Court of Justice seal on the certificate was also allegedly added using a colour laser printer and the embossing stamp has Morton's stamp partially on it.
None of the allegations against Morton have been proven in court.
Borg said he is also aware of several lawsuits where Morton is the defendant.
However, Alison Crowe, president of the Nunavut Law Society, wrote in an email to the CBC that she was unaware of any cases where Morton is a defendant.
Nunavut law society weighing options
As for Morton's ability to practise in Nunavut, Crowe said that has been referred to the law society's Discipline Committee, which is "considering its options and will be [making] a decision in the near future."
Crowe said Morton contacted the CEO of the law society on Aug. 2 via email and "stated that he was experiencing some serious difficulties in Ontario that he expected to resolve. In the interim, he advised that he would be resigning from the Law Society of Nunavut."
But she said the CEO has since not heard from Morton or received a formal application to resign from the society, as required by the Legal Profession Act.
"Accordingly, officers of the Law Society of Nunavut are considering what options are open to them, both in the short and long term," Crowe wrote. "I expect that decisions will be taken with respect to James Morton's licence to practise law in Nunavut in the very near future."
Crowe said the public will be notified if Morton's licence is suspended.
"Our primary obligation is to manage the affairs of the law society in the public interest and specifically to safeguard the rights of legal clients in Nunavut."
Crowe also said any of Morton's clients in Nunavut who have concerns are welcome to contact the Law Society CEO. In the case of legal aid clients, she said they should first contact the legal aid office in their region.
Morton's criminal matter is scheduled to go before the courts this fall.
He has not responded to request for comment from the CBC.
With files from Michelle Pucci