Have you ever defended someone who actually was framed?

My answer to the question – originally published at Quora.com…

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

I was framed by corrupt lawyers and police – and was forced to self-represent and act as my own lawyer. I can freely tell you everything because what happened to me is a matter of public record – widely published and supported in court records and news media articles available on the internet since 2014.

My website https://donaldbest.ca has all the documents, recordings and other evidence available for public scrutiny – as well as a list of my supporters including lawyers, organizations and a former Commissioner of Police and Canadian Federal Cabinet Minister who filed sworn affidavits in my support.

This is the true story of how several corrupt lawyers from some of Canada’s largest law firms fabricated false evidence, bribed police and lied to the courts to convict me of Contempt of Court in a civil lawsuit costs hearing that I was unaware of and not present for as I was not in Canada.

This is also the true story of how the Canadian legal profession and courts, when confronted with forensically certified telephone recordings and other irrefutable evidence proving the lawyers fabricated evidence and lied to the court to convict me – closed ranks to save the corrupt lawyers, even when that meant knowingly sending an innocent man to prison.

But first a little background…

As a Sergeant (Detective) with the Toronto Police and later in private industry, for over thirty years I hunted organized crime members and their enablers including corrupt police, politicians and members of the legal profession.

Now I’m an independent journalist, documentary filmmaker and an anti-corruption advocate.

I am the sole recipient of the 2018 Ontario Civil Liberties Award for my work in exposing and fighting corruption of the police, the legal profession and the judiciary.

Oh… I also served 63 days incarcerated in a Canadian prison; spending every day in solitary confinement.

Senior Ontario lawyers Gerald Ranking (center), Lorne Silver (right) and junior Sebastien Kwidzinski (left) lied to the courts to convict Donald Best.

The Frame Job

In November of 2009, I was traveling in Asia – but this didn’t stop a group of corrupt Bay Street lawyers from falsely swearing to the court that they had served me in Canada with a certain civil court order and that during a subsequent telephone call with them I admitted to receiving that court order.

Twelve times during that telephone call, I denied receiving the court order and asked that it be sent to me. After the call, the lawyers immediately created a formal ‘Statement for the Record’ document that falsely indicated I had informed them during the call that I had indeed received the court order the day before. This was a deliberate fabrication of evidence, a lie – but they submitted their false statement as evidence to court.

Later, during a hearing that I was not notified of, and was therefore not present for, the lawyers doubled down on their false Statement for the Record by confirming it orally on the court transcript. Further, they submitted a sworn affidavit – falsely stating that they had couriered the order to me at an address in Canada. The judge convicted me of contempt of court upon the lawyers’ false evidence, sentenced me to three months in prison and issued a warrant for my arrest.

The Secret Telephone Recording

The corrupt lawyers didn’t know that I had secretly and legally recorded my telephone conversation with them.

The recording proved they fabricated evidence and lied to the court to convict me.

Evidence from the courier company showed that – contrary to their sworn affidavit – the lawyers had never sent the court order to me in Canada or anywhere else and they couldn’t produce any courier record, tracking number, invoice or receipt for delivery.

They lied to convict me, a self-represented person who did not have a lawyer. They lied because they knew they could, because they had the power, authority and credibility as Officers of the Court and as senior partners of large and respected law firms. They did it because they were corrupt and wanted to win a civil case so badly that they would commit criminal offenses to do so.

Senior Ontario lawyers Gerald Ranking, Lorne Silver and junior Sebastien Kwidzinski placed their false evidence before the court, swore it was true both in writing and orally on the transcript record, convicted me of Contempt of Court and obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs against me based on their false evidence.

Ah… but I had my secret recording of the telephone call that irrefutably proved the lawyers lied to the court in writing and orally on the record. ‘No problem’ I said to myself – I’ll just return to Canada and play the recording for the court, who will overturn my conviction and justly imprison these corrupt lawyers for perjury, obstruct justice and fabricating evidence.

Abandoned by the legal profession and the Law Society of Ontario

When I voluntarily returned to Canada from Asia to appeal my conviction and present my evidence, over one hundred Ontario lawyers refused to represent me even as they acknowledged the veracity and power of my evidence. Many told me that while they personally sympathized with my situation facing injustice and corruption, they feared backlash and opprobrium from the profession if they harmed or even challenged the involved senior lawyers and their large Bay Street law firms.

Even the Law Society of Ontario refused to assist in finding a lawyer to represent me and chose to not investigate the wrongdoing that I reported in writing. The Law Society chose to not seize and preserve evidence from the corrupt lawyers and their law firms. Some Law Society senior benchers actively covered up for their fellow Bay Street cabal members at the highest levels.

So I was forced to represent myself before the court.

Self-Represented in the Ontario Courts

The judges did not allow me to appeal my conviction that was obtained while I was not in court. I was not even allowed to cross-examine the lawyers and other witnesses that the courts relied upon to convict and imprison me.

I was not allowed to cross-examine the corrupt Ontario Provincial Police officer, Jim Van Allen, who worked illegally for the lawyers as an unlicensed private investigator, and whose ‘expert’ evidence was also used to convict and sentence me.

Not Allowed to Cross-Examine Witnesses against me

As a Canadian facing prison, I was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses who provided the evidence the court used to convict and sentence me.

Let me repeat that: As a Canadian facing prison, I was not allowed to cross- examine the very witnesses who provided the evidence the court used to convict and sentence me.

Right now, many of you are thinking, “That can’t be true. No way. Not in Canada.”

How naïve you are.

Ontario Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

A Corrupt Judge takes his Revenge

On May 3, 2013 after refusing to even consider my recordings and other new evidence that proved my innocence, and after sending me off to prison and ending court for the day, Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy went to a backroom.

There in that backroom, off the court record and without a hearing, trial or transcript, Justice Shaughnessy secretly and illegally increased my prison sentence by fifty percent without notifying me. He secretly created a new warrant of committal that he gave only to the prison authorities. He did not file the new secret warrant with the courts or make mention of it anywhere in the records.

Several senior lawyers and a retired Crown Attorney describe the Judge’s misconduct as “despotic”, “disgusting”, “reprehensible”, “malicious” and “worthy of his removal from the bench.”

Later, I was denied the right to appeal my conviction and Justice Shaughnessy’s actions to a higher court because I could not pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs earlier awarded to the other side on the basis of their provably fabricated and false evidence.

Solitary Confinement prison cell very much like the one Donald Best spent 63 days in. Lights on 24 hours a day and the screams of other prisoners never stop.

Solitary Confinement

I spent 63 days in prison – every day in solitary confinement as I am a former Toronto Police Officer. The prison authorities told me that solitary was the only place they could keep me alive – and from what I saw, they spoke the truth. In my solitary cell I had to clean the faeces and blood of previous occupants from the floor and walls. The lights in the cell were on 24 hours a day – but the screams and moans of my fellow prisoners didn’t allow for much sleep anyway.

All this is still celebrated online as a victory by the group of corrupt Bay Street lawyers and their large law firms who wanted to win, and did win, a high-value civil case by any means possible – including fabrication of evidence, perjury, obstructing justice and bribery of police to illegally obtain confidential police records.

How the Courts protect fellow members of The Legal Club

But as disgusting as all that is, there is much worse. The Canadian legal profession, the Law Society of Ontario and the Courts themselves, when confronted with legally made certified voice recordings and other irrefutable evidence proving that the Bay Street lawyers deliberately fabricated false evidence and lied to the court to convict me while I was out of the country…

… when confronted with that irrefutable evidence, the legal profession, the Law Society and the Courts closed ranks to save the corrupt Bay Street lawyers – even when that meant knowingly sending an innocent man – a self-represented person in a civil case – to prison.

In response to my solid evidence of criminal wrongdoing by senior Law Society of Ontario lawyers, the courts refused to consider my evidence, my exhibits and refused to even listen to the voice recordings. In all these years before various levels of courts, no judge has ever listened to the voice recordings – at least officially.

When faced with a choice of ignoring irrefutable evidence of lawyers’ corrupt activities – or of receiving that evidence and then holding accountable senior partners from some of Bay Street’s largest legal firms – the Law Society of Upper Canada, the legal profession and the courts betrayed their duty to Canadians.

Canada’s Legal Profession & Courts cover-up legal system corruption

The worst though, is that my personal story is just one small part of a much larger disaster involving thousands upon thousands of Canadians who have been denied access to justice and justice itself because of systemic failings in our justice system.

Those systemic failings in our justice system include a Canada-wide tolerance by judges and lawyers for corruption in the legal profession.

There is an unwillingness in the Canadian legal profession to even talk about corrupt acts by lawyers and judges. When a lawyer actually presents evidence of corruption in specific terms, naming names… look out! The rest of the pack will turn and attack as my current lawyer and so many other Canadians have discovered.

My false conviction and imprisonment was possible only because there is a level of tolerance by judges and lawyers for corruption in the legal profession and in the courts. There is strong reluctance to damage the careers of fellow lawyers and judges – or to tarnish the profession itself by acknowledging serious deliberate wrongdoing.

Tolerance of corruption in our justice system is systemic and deep-rooted. It is fed by the low integrity of some individuals in positions of influence and authority, who are empowered by the total lack of courage and the unwillingness of our legal profession to hold fellow Club Members accountable in any meaningful manner.

Not a week goes by that I do not hear from five or ten other Canadians (totalling many hundreds in the past few years) who write to tell me their own stories of lawyers and judges committing serious acts of misconduct with impunity; confident that they will never be held accountable.

Many of the writers are desperate because they cannot afford a lawyer and must represent themselves in court – knowing as they do that the courts are set up to overwhelmingly favour and benefit the legal profession, not to provide justice to ordinary Canadians as purported.

Losing Faith in the Justice System

For a variety of well-founded reasons, ordinary Canadians are fast losing their faith in our justice system. Many believe that justice is now simply unattainable through the courts. This is a dangerous situation, the extent and seriousness of which has yet to be acknowledged by those entrusted with operating our justice system.

Unless individual police officers, lawyers and judges start to act with courage, integrity and a sense of duty towards ordinary Canadians and the Rule of Law – this situation will continue to deteriorate.

Much of the unrest, protests and violent flareups that we see in our cities has origin in the fact that people have lost faith in the professions and institutions charged with upholding the rule of law.

When the police, lawyers and courts are not to be trusted – anything goes.

Donald Best

Barrie, Ontario Canada

Supporting court evidence, documents, news media articles and much more can be found online at DonaldBest.CA | Access to Justice. Anti-corruption.

Twitter: @DonaldBestCA

Read Donald Best’s original answer on Quora.