The Sebastien Kwidzinski story: How senior partners taught a young articling lawyer to fabricate evidence and lie to the court.
When Sebastien Kwidzinski arrived for work on the morning of November 17, 2009 he had no idea that by the end of the day circumstances would require him to make an ethical and legal decision; either reveal that he witnessed senior lawyers fabricating evidence and lying on the court record, or keep silent and become part of a group of Bay Street lawyers deceiving a judge with false evidence and lies.
What was a young articling student to do?
Think of the pressure to follow the lead of a senior partner who bragged of earning over a million dollars income a year. Tell the truth and you’re out; never to have a chance at a coveted Bay Street partnership. Keep the code of silence, support the team and you’re assured of achieving everything a young law student could want; an opportunity to be part of one of the most powerful legal cabals in Canada.
In Fall of 2009 Sebastien Kwidzinski was a 26-year-old fresh-faced kid working for Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP senior partner Gerald Ranking. Kwidzinski had always done well academically, graduating in 2002 at the top of his class from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario. Recounting how York University sent a team to his home with a scholarship offer, Kwidzinski told the Toronto Star in 2006 that he “followed the money” and went into the law program at York U.
While at university Sebastien Kwidzinski was active in various student associations and in 2008 took a summer job with Faskens, where he was seconded to the Ontario Securities Commission. At 25 years old he was on his way to a law career with one of Canada’s largest and most respected legal firms.
As Kwidzinski excitedly headed off to his first day of work to “follow the money” with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, I wonder if he had ever read the words published by now Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals, Robert A Katzmann:
“As large firms have grown and multiplied, despondency about the decline of law practice from its virtuous and collegial past has intensified. Within the legal profession itself, many share the sense that law has freshly descended from a noble profession infused with civic virtue to a commercial pursuit. In the most erudite and theoretically sophisticated account of decline, the dean of the Yale Law School counsels idealistic young lawyers to stay clear of large firms, because they have a “harshly economizing spirit” and “increasingly commercial culture”.
The Law Firm and the Public Good, Robert A. Katzmann, page 40 (See ‘Some Canadian lawyers are too big to jail‘.)
Kwidzinski arrested for ‘Youthful Stupid Stunt’
But then came an incident that the Toronto Police later characterized as a youthful “stupid stunt”. On November 8, 2008 Sebastien Kwidzinski, age 25, was arrested along with two other York students and charged with false message, common nuisance and mischief interfering with property after a brown paper bag reading “I AM A BOMB” was left on a bus parked at York University. This happened two days into a strike by professors and teaching assistants of CUPE 3903. Thousands of people were evacuated from the area before the bomb squad declared the ‘bomb’ to be a hoax. Read more