Canadians respond to my Globe and Mail article about solitary confinement and Adam Capay

globe-mail-donald-best-590x220-private

Last Tuesday I was sitting in an examination room as a new doctor looked at my chart. (Like airline pilots, doctors seem to get younger every day.) When he flipped the pages to read my name again, he stopped, trying to remember something, and then said, “Donald Best… Donald Best. Did you write that column in the Globe and Mail yesterday?”

When I confirmed that I was the author, he called in a nurse, made introductions and the three of us spent the next 15 minutes discussing solitary confinement, my column and how a ‘nice man’ like me came to be housed with some of Canada’s most dangerous prisoners.

It is apparent that my Globe and Mail article ‘Solitary confinement is pure torture. I know, I was there“ touched many of my fellow Canadians who were unware of the horrors of solitary confinement in our prisons.

Prior to my own incarceration for 63 days, I too hadn’t thought much about solitary confinement, and when I did I had no idea about the reality – this despite three decades of service in public and private law enforcement.

But my article resonated with ordinary people, for which I am grateful – because solitary confinement is torture, nothing less. It is not what my Canada is about – or should be about.

In the last week, I received over one hundred emails and other messages of encouragement from all across Canada. My website saw an increase of several thousand additional visitors, and many journalists opened communication with me. I made guest appearances on two ‘talk-radio’ shows in Ottawa and Montreal. Several lawyers contacted me to inquire whether I would provide testimony to assist their clients who are incarcerated in solitary confinement.

(Sure I’ll testify to the truth about what I saw and experienced in solitary confinement. The truth does not have an agenda – it is just the truth.)

The catalyst for all this is, of course, Adam Capay, an indigenous 24-year-old man horrifically kept in solitary confinement for almost five years. His story splashed across the news media for a few days, but has disappeared now that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made some promises and moved Capay to a cell with a television.

Such is the fleeting attention of the public as new stories come and go.

17 Years in Solitary Confinement

Yet, as bad as Adam Capay’s case is – somewhere in Canada, if he is still alive, there is a prisoner who has spent over 17 years in ‘administrative segregation’.

Seventeen years.

This is not the Canada that I believe in. WE, you and I, need to make some changes happen.

Donald Best

Ontario Appeal Court decision clears the way for lawyers Lorne Silver and Gerald Ranking to sue Donald Best for Internet libel.

Toronto lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver lied to the court, fabricated evidence.

Toronto lawyers Gerald Ranking (Faskens) and Lorne Silver (Cassels Brock) lied to the court, fabricated evidence.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

There remains just one small problem… everything Donald Best published is true.

A recent cutting-edge decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal clears the way for residents of Ontario to sue for Internet libel no matter where in the world the offending material is published.

The Appeal Court upheld a lower court ruling that persons are entitled to sue in the jurisdiction where they enjoy their reputation. (The Lawyers Weekly: Israeli paper libel case to be tried in an Ontario court.)

If there was any doubt on the part of Toronto lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver about their ability to sue me in Ontario, the decision in Goldhar v. Haaretz.com 2016 ONCA 515 should clear the way if they wish to launch a civil action concerning my articles about them as published here at DonaldBest.CA.

I, Donald Best, hereby declare that I write and publish this website in Ontario, Canada, where I am resident.

Some of my articles document how Messrs. Ranking and Silver, as Officers of the Court, fabricated a false ’Statement for the Record’ and lied to the court in writing and orally to convict me in absentia of ‘Contempt of Court’ in a civil case costs hearing I was unaware of while I was overseas.

In several articles, I directly call both Mr. Ranking and Mr. Silver ‘liars’, which they are. They are proven to be liars by my secret telephone recordings and other evidence. By example, they even taught a junior lawyer how to lie to the court.

Please don’t believe anything I say. Examine all the affidavits, exhibits, recordings and court transcripts posted on this website and make up your own mind.

I also published several articles describing how Gerald Ranking committed fraud upon the courts when he knowingly conspired with his clients to use a phoney non-entity to bring motions and appear before the courts, including before the Supreme Court of Canada.  Read more

Why over 100 lawyers refused to represent me, even as they acknowledged the validity of my case.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Why would no lawyer represent me? Read my latest guest column published at the National Self-Represented Litigants Project.

The Client most lawyers fear – and won’t represent at any price

Welcome. Hear the secretly recorded phone calls that the judges refuse to listen to.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

I woke this morning to discover that I have already had hundreds of visitors to my website since midnight as a result of a very inaccurate Canadian Press story published yesterday afternoon.

Inaccurate or not, I welcome the CP news story because millions of my fellow Canadians can now read about my legal case for the first time in the mainstream news media. If the visitor trend continues, by the end of today several thousand people will also visit my website, hear the telephone recordings that no judge will listen to and read the court documents that prove the simple truths about what happened to this ordinary Canadian.

Please don’t take my word for anything. I welcome your scrutiny. Examine the court documents, listen to the recordings, read the transcripts and then make up your own mind about what happened with my case. And why it happened.

Why it happened is so important.

If you are one of the tens of thousands of Canadians who have been forced to represent yourself against professional lawyers in family or civil court; if as a self-represented litigant you’ve been subjected to resentment, abuse or anger by judges, lawyers and court staff; if you’ve been denied access to justice or discovered secret backroom deals about your case; if opposing lawyers set you up or lied to the judge; if a lawyer took every dollar you had, accomplished nothing and then walked away without a care when the money ran out… know that you are not alone.

There are thousands of us. We are telling our stories, educating, organizing and advocating for major reforms to the justice system and the legal profession. My story is just one more – but it is a rather powerful one, even if I do say so myself.

The Beginning

While I was traveling in Asia in November 2009, I spoke via telephone conference call with senior partners from some of Canada’s largest law firms. I told them many times during the conversation that I had not received a certain court order that they claimed to have sent to me.

As soon as the call ended, these same lawyers fabricated a false ‘Statement for the Record’ court document and lied to the judge – swearing in writing and later orally in court that I had confessed to them during the telephone call to having received the court order. They swore they delivered the court order to me via courier at a Kingston, Ontario address. They did not know that I was in Asia at the time.

On January 15, 2010 the lawyers placed their fabricated false evidence before the Ontario Superior Court in a rushed hearing that I was unaware of and therefore not present for. No lawyer spoke for me. Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy believed the lawyers’ testimony as Officers of the Court, found me guilty in absentia (in my absence) of civil contempt of court and sentenced me to three months in prison and a fine. The court issued a warrant for my arrest and imprisonment.

Lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver lied to the court, fabricated evidence.

Lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver lied to the court, fabricated evidence.

Telephone Recording proves lawyers lied to the Judge.

Unfortunately for the lying senior partners, I had secretly (and legally) recorded our telephone conversation. This is why I can invite you to listen to the recorded conversation, and to read the certified transcript of that recording. Then you can compare that recording and the certified transcript to the false evidence that Toronto lawyers Gerald L. Ranking and Lorne S. Silver provided to the court to obtain my conviction.

Justice Shaughnessy’s dilemma and decision Read more

TheRedline.ca – Group of young(ish) Toronto Lawyers set out to reform their profession

A group of young(ish) Toronto lawyers are telling some inconvenient truths on their new TheRedline.ca blog. Hopefully they will retain their mission when members of the Bay Street Boys Club start refusing to shake their hands in court. DB

Some excerpts from Allison Hines’ article ‘Thou Shalt Not Bring the Justice System into Disrepute’

Allison Hines, Toronto lawyer

Allison Hines, Toronto lawyer

I’m talking about the people who do not equate the words “justice system” with “justice”, for which I am one. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am proud to work in the justice system as a lawyer. I’m proud to have the opportunity to help marginalized people maneuver through the system, and to be someone who understands what it’s like to have distrust for the very thing that you’re hoping will allow you to access your rights…this time. I also acknowledge that even though the justice system isn’t perfect, it does provide protection and dignity to many.

However, I see too many flaws and too often. I see that our current system was born from and still imitates feudalism, where inequality and unchecked intergenerational privilege make a mockery of our constitutional rights. These flaws truncate individual rights proving the system to be illegitimate in the eyes of many.  Put simply, the system betrays many of its own people. It disrespects the rights and dignity of those who have no meaningful say in how the law is created, maintained, or carried out.

(snip)

So, I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that instead of telling law students and lawyers not to bring the justice system into disrepute, I think we should be teaching them to question how we can bring the justice system into good standing, for all people, period. I know that what I have written here may seem very negative and critical. Hell, I’d even agree with that. However, I am saying these things because I am optimistic that things can change, but not without a critical view of how the system is working, or not working.

Read Allison’s full article at The Redline: Thou Shalt Not Bring the Justice System into Disrepute’

9 Tips for dealing with an Abusive Lawyer: Advice for self-represented litigants, Part 4

Abusive Lawyers vs. Self-Represented Litigants

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Today, a reader told me yet another tale of an abusive lawyer and a court that refused to do anything about it. The judge advised the self-represented litigant that court involves “a certain amount of rough and tumble” and they should “get used to it.”

Indeed, that ‘rough and tumble’ against self-represented litigants can involve almost anything when courts let lawyers go over the line. And judges do let abusive lawyers get away with it – every day.

One lesson self-represented persons soon learn is that the respect and courtesy so evident between opposing lawyers, in and out of court, immediately vanishes when a non-lawyer sets foot onto the sacred turf of the legal brotherhood.

Every person who has been a self-represented litigant (SRL) in anything more than a minor civil claim or traffic court knows exactly what I am talking about. Lawyers view self-reps as ‘easy pickin’s’ because, well, we are. Self-represented persons often describe how lawyers deliberately use shows of anger, personal space invasion, belittling comments and sarcasm to intimidate and confuse, both in and out of court.

Summary Judgments as a legal strategy against Self-Represented Persons

Even worse, many lawyer-bullies use their status and credibility as officers of the court and their legal knowledge to deliberately ‘set-up’ self-represented persons in a long-term litigation strategy designed to obtain a Summary Judgment and dismiss the case before trial.

As part of their technique, these abusive lawyers deliberately overwhelm self-reps with a tsunami of emailed communications, always wait to the last minute to serve motions, and use a hundred practiced devices to bully SRLs into becoming ineffective or – much better for the lawyer – goad the SRL into foolish acts of aggression or non-compliance with required legal procedures.

Julie Macfarlane, National Self-Represented Litigants Project

Julie Macfarlane, National Self-Represented Litigants Project

In the court hallways where there is no record, some lawyers aggressively demand unrealistic procedural concessions or case schedules that are designed to place self-reps at a disadvantage. Some lawyers deliberately misrepresent these hallway conversations to the court.

Some unethical lawyers falsely claim to the court that they sent letters or even served documents via courier when it never happened. They then petition the court that the self-represented litigant is irresponsible or vexatious in not responding to the “very reasonable, courteous communications” of the lawyer. Professor Julie Macfarlane and her colleagues at the National Self-Represented Litigants Project found shocking results in their studies of Summary Judgments against self-reps.

Don’t let it happen to you.

Here are 9 Tips for dealing with an Abusive Lawyer 

1. Always remain calm. Lawyer-bullies try to provoke self-represented litigants into inappropriate behaviour and into making inappropriate statements both in and out of the courtroom, on the record and off. Don’t be driven by emotion; the lawyer-bullies aren’t, no matter how angry or threatening they sound. As Michael Corleone says in The Godfather, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” Know their game and be prepared.  Read more

Affidavit filed in action against Canadian Judicial Council, Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

In the next few days I’ll be establishing a separate page devoted to my current Application for a Federal Court Judicial Review of the decision of the Canadian Judicial Council regarding my complaint about the misconduct of Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy on May 3, 2013.

(Whew! Sometimes it takes a run-on sentence to accurately describe a lawsuit.)

Meanwhile, my lawyer Paul Slansky has filed on my behalf a supporting affidavit sworn by me on April 27, 2016.

You can download the affidavit in two PDF files: Vol 1 (10.4mb) and Vol 2 (11.7mb)

A senior Ontario lawyer examined the complaint and the evidence, and stated…

“In all my years of practicing law, this is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen a judge do.” 

Senior Ontario lawyer writes to Donald Best after examining the evidence against Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy.

Background

March 31, 2016: Canadian Judicial Council refuses investigation of Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy. CJC says “No misconduct”

Feb. 9, 2016: Judge J. Bryan Shaughnessy under investigation by Canadian Judicial Council

Dec. 2, 2015: Ontario Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy secretly increased prisoner’s jail sentence; in a backroom meeting, off the court record, without informing the prisoner.

March 9, 2016: Canadian Judicial Council remains silent on investigation of Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

 

Donald Best honoured to have work referenced by National Self-Represented Litigants Project

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

I was surprised, delighted and honoured to discover that the National Self-Represented Litigants Project’s latest publication references my article Advice for self-represented litigants, Part 1: Walking away is sometimes the best decision.

The NSRLP updated edition of ‘Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography’ is a resource for law students, researchers and SRLs themselves.

Here is an excerpt from the NSRLP’s article Updated Edition of our Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography and a link to download the Bibliography…

Updated Edition of our Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography

We are proud to announce the latest – Version 4 – edition of our Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography. Designed as a resource for students, researchers and SRLs themselves, the NSRLP Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography is now over 50 pages and includes almost 100 summaries in 3 sections (Canada, US and the rest of the world).

biblio

We are constantly pruning and adding to keep the Bibliography as current and as useful as possible (we welcome all your suggestions for items to include). We are gratified to see more academic writing being done on this topic area than when the Bibliography was first launched in 2013, as well as wider coverage in news reports, both on-line and print, for us to choose from.

Important upgrade: this latest version of the bibliography includes hyperlinks (just hover over the title) for every source that has an on-line location. We hope that this will greatly improve the usability and accessibility of this resource.

The Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography is offered as a free downloadable community resource, and we shall continue to update and revise this at regular intervals to keep it up-to-date.

Ontario lawyer despairs that the legal profession places Privilege over Public Interest

Julie Macfarlane, National Self-Represented Litigants Project

Julie Macfarlane, National Self-Represented Litigants Project

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

As usual, Julie Macfarlane doesn’t hesitate to speak the truths that many in the legal profession find so difficult to acknowledge in public, or even admit to themselves.

Her latest piece is superb and well worth your time, especially if you are a lawyer or a judge. The article should be required reading in every law school in the country.

For me, the one issue in Julie’s article that stands out above everything is how the legal profession, including the Law Society of Upper Canada, usually places privilege over public interest. Lawyers and former lawyers (called ‘judges’) most often choose to protect their own even at the expense of the public interest and the public trust.

Notwithstanding that the vast majority of lawyers and judges are hard-working, ethical, and decent people, the current culture of the legal profession punishes members who dare to report or even acknowledge specific professional misconduct by other lawyers. The standard in the profession is that it is permissible to talk about ethics and misconduct generally, but woe unto the lawyer or judge who points a finger. In many ways this is very similar to the protectionist culture found in policing organizations.

Those in the legal profession who won’t circle the wagons and stand with ‘the Club’ soon find themselves standing alone, with no referrals and few lunch invitations at best. At worst, they are squeezed out of their firms, find their careers diminished and themselves under attack.

As Julie Macfarlane says,

“It’s not the people in the legal profession who are the problem.

It’s what the profession has become.”

Julie Macfarlane: Why I Sometimes feel Despair about the Profession I Love

Canadians are well aware of what the legal profession has become, just as they are well aware of the legal profession’s pretensions of public interest. Ordinary Canadians get it – they just lack the power and capability to do anything about a profession that is entirely self-regulating and accountable only unto itself.   Read more

Advice for self-represented litigants, Part 3: LSUC Bencher Joseph Groia “Lawyer-bullies prey on the weak and inexperienced”

Lawyers Gerry Ranking and Lorne Silver-private

Lawyers Gerald Ranking (left) & Lorne Silver. Strategies for cross-examination of self-represented litigant included screaming, yelling foul words and throwing objects at the witness. (as indicated in transcripts of cross-examination with the Judge not present. The lawyers later apologized to the court, but not to the self-represented litigant.)

The Legal Profession’s culture of bullying

Law Society of Upper Canada bencher Joseph Groia and BC lawyer Gerry Laarakker are two of the high profile people weighing in with comments on law professor Adam Dodek’s excellent article: Ending Bullying in the Legal Profession.

In January 2012, the Law Society of British Columbia found Laarakker guilty of misconduct for not being polite to a bullying Ontario lawyer. Laarakker had to pay $4,500 in fines and costs. The Ontario lawyer-bully walked free because the legal profession has a culture of bullying that law societies tolerate and even support through attacks on lawyers who stand against the practice.

According to lawyer Katarina Germani of Clyde & Co. LLP in Toronto, “(lawyer-bully) behaviour is so often normalized by the profession.”

And as Chris Budgell comments, bullying by lawyers is a problem in the courts, not just within law firms.

Self-represented litigants need to be aware of lawyer-bullies

There is a sometimes difficult to define line between a lawyer diligently representing their client – and engaging in bullying. Although there are contrary opinions I’m sure, I believe that most judges and most lawyers dealing with self-represented litigants try to be fair – if for no other reason than to avoid appeals and complaints.

But, as LSUC bencher Joseph Groia points out, some lawyers are bullies who attempt to prey on the weak and inexperienced. That description certainly includes self-represented litigants.

In my own case, during a January 2013, cross-examination where the judge was not present, senior counsel Lorne S. Silver of Cassels Brock & Blackwell yelled, screamed foul language at the top of his voice and threw objects at me. All this is supported in the transcripts. Co-counsel Gerald Ranking of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP later apologized to the court (but not to me), for the disgusting behaviour, of which Mr. Ranking played his own part during the same cross-examination.  Read more

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