Ontario’s Bay Street Cabal and law society circle the wagons to protect judge; Ignoring conflicts of interest and the public trust – #2 in a Series
Law Society of Upper Canada sides with Judge over misconduct some lawyers call “disgusting”, “reprehensible”, “worthy of removal from the bench.”
Our first article in this series exposed how Ontario Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy hired a conflicted lawyer to represent him in an ongoing Judicial Review of a Canadian Judicial Council decision about Justice Shaughnessy.*
Law Society of Upper Canada senior bencher Peter C. Wardle is Justice Shaughnessy’s new attorney. However, in a closely related matter Wardle also represented two lawyers who are almost certain to be called as primary witnesses in a CJC investigation or public inquiry into allegations of serious misconduct against Justice Shaughnessy.**
Of the over 50,000 licensed lawyers in Ontario, Justice Shaughnessy just happens to be represented by Mr. Wardle – the only lawyer in Canada who:
- represented two important witnesses to the judge’s misconduct in a closely associated legal matter, and,
- represented eleven high profile law firms and lawyers (including the current Treasurer of the law society) in the same closely related matter, and,
- is a senior bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada (‘LSUC’) – the regulator of all lawyers and paralegals in the province that has been extensively involved in this very series of legal actions, and,
- works closely with LawPRO, the law society’s company insuring lawyers in Ontario that is also involved in legal matters closely associated with the current Judicial Review.
Senior bencher Peter Wardle represented lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver during a civil law suit launched in July, 2014 by former Toronto Police Sergeant (Detective) Donald Best. Wardle represented a total of 11 lawyers and law firms in that lawsuit, including some of Canada’s largest Bay Street law firms. (Best was forced to discontinue that lawsuit in 2015 when he could not pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs previously awarded against him on the basis of false testimony by Ranking and Silver.***)
The Law Society of Upper Canada and its insurance company LawPRO have been following this series of actions in the courts since at least 2009, and became even more involved in 2014 when Donald Best sued lawyers Gerald Ranking, Lorne Silver, bencher Paul Schabas and other people and entities who acted in the civil lawsuit that saw Best maliciously convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to prison upon provably fabricated and false evidence.
Today, Paul Schabas is law society’s highest elected official, the Treasurer. Schabas and his Blakes law firm appeared extensively before Justice Shaughnessy on the Best legal cases and acted in concert with lawyers Ranking and Silver during many motions and submissions against Best and his company.
As a senior bencher, Peter C. Wardle is an elite on the inside of the law society. He regularly acts for the law society’s LawPRO lawyer insurance arm and probably did so during Donald Best’s civil lawsuit against Ranking, Silver and Schabas. He serves on internal committees and often works directly with Treasurer Paul Schabas.
Wardle undoubtedly gained privileged, insider information about the case and about Justice Shaughnessy’s actions during the case, from his clients Ranking, Silver and Schabas. Wardle also likely gained similar insider information about the case that he obtained formally or informally as a direct result of his position as senior bencher and/or his relationship working with LawPRO.
Many persons find this arrangement and the relationship between the Law Society of Upper Canada, LSUC senior management, LawPRO insurance, Bay Street law firms and Justice Shaughnessy, to be all too cozy.
Who is looking after the public trust and the broader interests of lawyers in Ontario in this Judicial Review of the Canadian Judicial Council? With these potential and real conflicts of interest, both ordinary citizens and lawyers I’ve spoken with have little confidence that the Law Society of Upper Canada is doing anything other than circling the wagons to protect a judge facing strong – even irrefutable – evidence of serious misconduct.
The question is asked by many:
Are the law society’s actions in this judicial review being driven by the broad public and professional interests… or, are the law society’s actions more closely aligned with the personal agendas of the involved LSUC senior leadership and Bay Street law firms?
Lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver are witnesses to Justice Shaughnessy’s serious misconduct
Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver are connected to Justice Shaughnessy’s misconduct through a series of civil court actions involving Donald Best, and due to their presence with Justice Shaughnessy on May 3, 2013 during at least some parts of the judicial misconduct.
The lawyers were also involved in a previous incident during the same civil case where Justice Shaughnessy backdated a court order for them on November 12, 2009 – backdated ten days to November 2, 2009.****
Here is a basic summary of what lawyers Ranking and Silver witnessed and may have witnessed during Justice Shaughnessy’s misconduct on May 3, 2013:
- On May 3, 2013, both Ranking and Silver were present in court and witnessed Justice Shaughnessy declare (on the transcript) that he would not set aside his January 15, 2010 conviction of self-represented litigant Donald Best for contempt of court. Justice Shaughnessy ordered that the stay on his original January 15, 2010 warrant for the arrest and imprisonment of Donald Best would now be lifted, and that Best would be taken to prison to serve his 3 month sentence according to Justice Shaughnessy’s January 15, 2010 warrant of committal and court order.
- Ranking and Silver also witnessed Justice Shaughnessy order that Best was not to have input into any court order to be made on that day May 3rd 2013 and that Ranking and Silver would prepare an order for Justice Shaughnessy.
- Ranking and Silver also witnessed the judge order that Donald Best was never again to be brought before him, and that some other judge must deal with Best in the future.
- Ranking and Silver witnessed that court ended, the judge left and then the court staff packed up and left. Court Police allowed Donald Best 10 minutes to pack up, after which he was taken in handcuffs to the basement cells and then to prison.
- After court had finished on May 3, 2013 and Donald Best had been taken away to serve his three-month sentence, Justice Shaughnessy went to a backroom and secretly signed a new and secret warrant of committal that increased the Best’s prison time by a month. Justice Shaughnessy did this off the court record, out of court, without telling the self-represented prisoner and without placing the new warrant of committal or any mention of it or the increased sentence into the court record. This was all contrary to the sentence and order the judge himself delivered earlier in court on the record.
- The judge gave the only copy of the new warrant to prison authorities after ordering that Best was not to have knowledge of the creation of the court order.
- As secretly planned and arranged by Justice Shaughnessy, Best only discovered the increased sentence when informed by authorities at the prison.
The above shows that lawyers Ranking and Silver are, at the very least, important witnesses to parts of Justice Shaughnessy’s misconduct on May 3, 2013 – raising questions about conflicts of interest now that Peter C. Wardle is representing Justice Shaughnessy.
Complicating the conflicts of interest even further, lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver may not be just witnesses. Court transcripts indicate it is also possible that these lawyers assisted Justice Shaughnessy in carrying out his judicial misconduct.
Details on the Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver story are coming next week.
New Series: Abandoning Public Trust: Conflicts of Interest by Ontario’s legal profession
Part 2: Ontario’s Bay Street Cabal and law society circle the wagons to protect judge; Ignoring conflicts of interest and the public trust.
Part 4: Should conflicted lawyer Peter C. Wardle resign from representing Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy?
Part 5: Abandoning the Public Interest. When Canada’s legal profession circles the wagons to save club members, who looks after the interests of Canadians?
Part 6: Previous incident – How Justice Shaughnessy backdated a court order for lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver.
… Additional articles in this series will be added later.
**** Details and court exhibits coming in Part 6 – Previous incident – How Justice Shaughnessy backdated a court order for lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver.