Ontario’s Law Society of Upper Canada approved & licensed known pedophile to be children’s lawyer – with predictable results.

John David Coon Lawyer Pedophile-private

“Coon was given a licence to practice law in Ontario despite a history that included a prior criminal conviction for sexually assaulting a child.

According to the documents, Coon revealed in 2004 to the Law Society that he had been convicted of sexually assaulting a friend’s 12-year-old daughter in 1991.

… But the Law Society determined there was insufficient evidence to justify what is known as a “good character” hearing after Coon produced a “favourable” report from a psychologist who had treated him from 1990 to 1994…” (National Post)

Ontario Lawyer John David Coon is on the run. Arrest warrant issued.

Accused of sexually assaulting 4-year old girl while acting in his professional capacity as an Ontario lawyer.

Thought to be hiding in Thailand or Cambodia.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Far be it that I, or any ordinary Canadian, should attempt to define professional standards for Ontario’s Law Society of Upper Canada.

After all, the Law Society has arranged it so that lawyers are unaccountable to anyone but their fellow members of the Club. Ontario lawyers are only regulated and judged by the same people they went to law school with, worked with and attended office and family functions with.

These same members of the Club decided that a convicted pedophile met the ‘good character’ standards to be licensed as a lawyer in Ontario. Not to mention that the pedophile’s area of practice was ‘Child Protection Law’.

Well, if that’s the standard, who are we ordinary Canadians to disagree?

With the Club.   Read more

Canadian Judicial Council refuses investigation of Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy. CJC says “No misconduct”

Norman Sabourin, CJC Executive Director & General Counsel

Norman Sabourin, CJC Executive Director (photo courtesy of The Lawyers Weekly)

“I have carefully considered your complaint and concluded that it does not involve misconduct. Accordingly, I will be taking no further action.”

Norman Sabourin
Executive Director and Senior General Counsel
Canadian Judicial Council

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

I have just received the below letter from Canadian Judicial Council Director Norman Sabourin, in response to my January 5, 2016 complaint about the actions of Ontario Superior Court Justice the Honourable J. Bryan Shaughnessy. (CJC 2016 Response Sabourin PDF 906kb download)

The letter is dated January 28, 2016. The envelope has an office postage meter date of February 3, 2016. Assuming that the CJC mailed the letter at Canada Post shortly after running it through the CJC’s office postage meter (and that it didn’t sit on someone’s desk) it took Canada Post almost eight weeks to deliver an ordinary mail letter from Ottawa to Barrie, Ontario.

That seems to be abysmal performance on the part of Canada Post. On the other hand, Mr. Sabourin messed up the postal code. So for whatever the reasons, I have just received the CJC’s decision about my complaint. Contrary to the indication on the letter, the CJC did not send the letter to me via email.

I invite my readers, and especially those involved in Canada’s Justice System who love the Rule of Law, to carefully consider the evidence of Justice Shaughnessy’s actions as reported in my articles here at DonaldBest.ca.

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

Then, I invite you to have a carefully considered read of Mr. Sabourin’s letter, and repeat after Mr. Sabourin: “…it does not involve misconduct…it does not involve misconduct…it does not involve misconduct.”

That any judge would do what Justice Shaughnessy did; illegally, vindictively, in secret, in a backroom and off the court record, is immensely disturbing to every lawyer I have spoken with.

“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.

I’ll be writing further about this subject in a while.

Photo of Norman Sabourin courtesy of The Lawyers Weekly.

Anonymous Companies: Global Witness undercover investigation shows 25% of lawyers will money launder

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

An undercover investigation by Global Witness found that twenty-five percent of the New York lawyers they approached were willing to become involved in moving suspect monies into the United States. Several of the lawyers even suggested that their trust accounts could be used for the purpose.

The Global Witness investigation highlights the role of anonymously-owned companies in avoiding detection of money laundering. Most of the unethical lawyers in the hidden videos suggested using anonymously-owned companies and even layers of companies to money-launder.

What is most shocking about the 25% rate of corruption is that these were all cold calls by an undercover investigator.

A stranger walked in the door and 25% of the lawyers laid out strategies to enable money-laundering or otherwise agreed to participate to varying degrees. It is reasonable to assume that some of the lawyers who refused to participate did so because they were suspicious of the undercover investigator. Some would probably have agreed to money launder had they been approached by an existing client, therefore the Global Witness figure of 25% is probably low. Perhaps very low.

Gerald L Ranking Fasken noncopyright Photo-SAN

Fasken Martineau Toronto lawyer Gerald L Ranking knowingly used a phoney, non-existent ‘corporate client’ to commit fraud upon Canadian courts. Where did the million dollars go?  Why didn’t Ranking submit costs to the Supreme Court of Canada?

In context, the Global Witness investigation is nothing less than an indictment of the legal profession – including of former lawyers who are now called ‘judges’. If I belonged to a profession where 25% of my colleagues were shown to be corrupt, I’d be embarrassed, upset and determined to clean up the profession – and I don’t mean just polishing the profession’s image by making excuses.

Dirty money is dirty money, whether taken by corrupt Lawyers or corrupt Police

Donald Best from an organized crime squad photo, mid-1980's

Toronto Police Sergeant Donald Best. From an organized crime squad photo, mid-1980’s

In 1985 when I was a Toronto Police officer working undercover in 52 Division, my squad mates and I received stacks of cash as bribes from organized crime. Yes, we took the cash and much more… but please read on!

Gang members offered us hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus fabulous vacations (and stunningly gorgeous women), for doing nothing more than looking the other way and not raiding certain gambling and prostitution establishments in the heart of downtown Toronto. An extra hundred thousand dollars a year per man (tax free cash) was quite a sum in 1985.

Were we tempted? Not even for an instant.

We were police officers; steadfast, independent agents of Her Majesty and Canada, and proud of it. So we organized a sting that went on far longer and far deeper than any of us ever imagined was possible.

We took the bribes under controlled conditions and found ourselves diving deep into the corrupt relationships between organized crime, lawyers, former lawyers, politicians, public officials and law enforcement. (And no… we didn’t take the offered women. We brought in female undercover officers to pose as our squad ‘groupies’. That story deserves its own book.) Read more

Canadian Judicial Council remains silent on investigation of Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy – Under CJC investigation.

“In the private sector, any business that failed to answer multiple letters over a 63 day period would soon be out of business. The CJC doesn’t have to worry about maintaining reasonable levels of service because it is effectively unaccountable to any outside person or organization.”

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Neither the Canadian Judicial Council nor CJC Executive Director Norman Sabourin have replied to written requests as to the status of the CJC investigation of Ontario Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy.

The first request was simply acknowledged as ‘received’ by the CJC on January 7, 2016. Further requests were made on January 21, 2016 and February 4, 2016, but other than automatic confirmation of the receipt of the emails, there has been no reply from the CJC in 63 days.

In the private sector, any business that failed to answer multiple letters over a 63 day period would soon be out of business. The Canadian Judicial Council doesn’t have to worry about maintaining reasonable levels of service though; because the CJC is totally funded by tax dollars, operates without oversight and is effectively unaccountable to any outside person or organization.

The allegations, evidence and actual exhibits against Justice Shaughnessy, as well as copies of my letters to the CJC and Director Sabourin, can be read in my February 9, 2016 article:

Judge J. Bryan Shaughnessy under investigation by Canadian Judicial Council

I made a formal complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council, the organization mandated to investigate misconduct by federally appointed judges, however it appears that the organization is ‘going slow’ in its investigation of Justice Shaughnessy in an obvious strategy to enable a subject judge to wind down his caseload and retire without a completed investigation and resolution.

This is not in the public interest and I therefore decided to publish the complaint, all supporting evidence and my communications with the CJC so that Canadians can have transparency and be able to discuss this and similar incidents of serious judicial misconduct.

“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 filed against Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy.)

From St. Matthew to Brad Pitt: The Ethics and Regulation of Expert Witnesses

 

Professor Adam Dodek Allard Law-private

The J. Donald Mawhinney Lecturship in Professional Ethics

Speaker: Associate Professor Adam Dodek

Lecture: “From St. Matthew to Brad Pitt: The Ethics and Regulation of Expert Witnesses”

Thursday, March 17, 2016 – 5pm to 6pm (lecture) – 6pm to 7pm (reception)

Four Seasons Hotel (Vancouver), Arbutus Room

RSVP by email or phone (604.822.5018)
The deadline to RSVP is March 15, 2016

This event qualifies for 1.0 CPD credit

About the lecture:

In recent years, many concerns have been raised about the role and the regulation of expert witnesses. Many of these concerns are not new. Critics have been questioning the ability of expert witnesses to be independent since at least the 19th century. This lecture will examine the ethical expectations of expert witnesses and evaluate how the justice system attempts to regulate their ethical conduct. It concludes that not only is the current approach to the regulation of expert witnesses insufficient, it is fundamentally flawed. A new paradigm is needed for the regulation of expert witnesses, one which imposes obligations on all actors in the justice system: lawyers, judges as well as experts.

In recent years, many concerns have been raised about the role and the regulation of expert witnesses. Many of these concerns are not new. Critics have been questioning the ability of expert witnesses to be independent since at least the 19th century. This lecture will examine the ethical expectations of expert witnesses and evaluate how the justice system attempts to regulate their ethical conduct. It concludes that not only is the current approach to the regulation of expert witnesses insufficient, it is fundamentally flawed. A new paradigm is needed for the regulation of expert witnesses, one which imposes obligations on all actors in the justice system: lawyers, judges as well as experts.

About the speaker:

Adam Dodek is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. He is a graduate of McGill, Harvard Law School and the University of Toronto and a member of the bars of Ontario and California. He has clerked for the Supreme Courts of Canada and Israel and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is a founder of the Canadian Association of Legal Ethics (CALE) and was named by Canadian Lawyer in 2014 as one of Canada’s Most Influential Lawyers. In 2015, the Law Society of Upper Canada awarded him its Law Society Medal.

Adam Dodek is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. He is a graduate of McGill, Harvard Law School and the University of Toronto and a member of the bars of Ontario and California. He has clerked for the Supreme Courts of Canada and Israel and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is a founder of the Canadian Association of Legal Ethics (CALE) and was named by Canadian Lawyer in 2014 as one of Canada’s Most Influential Lawyers. In 2015, the Law Society of Upper Canada awarded him its Law Society Medal.

Judge J. Bryan Shaughnessy under investigation by Canadian Judicial Council

Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

“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 filed against Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy.)

It is obvious that, as previously documented by the news media in other cases, the Canadian Judicial Council is delaying and drawing out the process to enable a subject judge to wind down their caseload and retire without an investigation and resolution.

This CJC cover-up strategy is not in the public interest. Therefore, I have decided to ‘go public’ with the details of the complaint about Justice Shaughnessy’s serious misconduct, and will do so on February 9, 2016.” (Donald Best in a February 4, 2016 letter to Mr. Norman Sabourin, Executive Director, Canadian Judicial Council)

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

The Canadian Judicial Council is investigating Ontario Superior Court Judge J. Bryan Shaughnessy for serious misconduct involving the illegal and secret substitution of a court order; made in secret and off the court record in a deliberate, vindictive and premeditated extra-judicial abuse of his position and authority.

On May 3, 2013 after court had finished and I had been sentenced and taken into custody, Justice Shaughnessy then went to a backroom where he secretly increased my prison sentence, without a hearing, without informing me as a self-represented litigant, and arranged everything so I would not discover the increased sentence until told by the prison staff at some unknown time in the future.

It is a given that Justice Shaughnessy would not have committed this misconduct had I been represented by a lawyer, but as a self-represented litigant I was vulnerable and defenseless against his abuse of power.

I wrote about Justice Shaughnessy’s actions in a December 2, 2015 article published on my website, and included copies of Justice Shaughnessy’s original January 15, 2010 Warrant of Committal and his secretly substituted May 3, 2013 order that increased my jail sentence by a month without informing me.

20100115 Warrant Justice Shaughnessy SAN

20130503 Warrant Justice Shaughnessy SAN

(click photos to see full size*)

I made a formal complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council, the organization mandated to investigate misconduct by federally appointed judges, however it appears that the organization is ‘going slow’ in its investigation of Justice Shaughnessy in an obvious strategy to enable a subject judge to wind down their caseload and retire without an investigation and resolution.

This is not in the public interest and I have therefore decided to publish the complaint, all supporting evidence and my communications with the CJC so that Canadians can have transparency and be able to discuss this and similar incidents of serious judicial misconduct.

February 4, 2016 letter to CJC Director Norman Sabourin    Read more

When big law firm lawyers won’t say ‘No’ to unethical demands from major clients

Canadian Bar Association’s Ethics Forum underlines why ordinary citizens should involve themselves in the discussion. Legal Ethics are too important to be left to the legal profession alone.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

In life and in legal practice, sometimes making an ethical decision is simple, even easy. Other times, doing the right thing, no matter how carefully considered, seems to be an impossiblity given all the circumstances.

In any profession the laws, practices, technologies and societal expectations are constantly changing in ways that make new difficulties for anyone trying to behave ethically. While I’m sure that plumbers and ceramic tile installers have their ethical concerns and codes of conduct, I think you’ll agree with me that along with medicine, the practice of law is probably one of the most difficult professions when it comes to the challenge of behaving ethically.

The Canadian Bar Association’s Ethics Forum is coming up on March 7, 2016. I won’t be attending but I just might next year after my book is published, because the one thing that seems to be missing at these conferences is the perspective from outside of the legal communities.

While some lawyers may not appreciate independent civilian involvement and oversight of the legal profession, virtually all ordinary Canadians I’ve spoken with agree that laws and the practice of law are far too important and foundational to our society to be left to lawyers alone.

The list of speakers and moderators at this year’s Ethics Forum includes many of the ‘Who’s Who’ leaders in the area of legal ethics. Malcolm Mercer (McCarthy Tetrault LLP) and Alice Woolley (University of Calgary) are the co-chairs. Dr. Steven Vaughan (University of Birmingham) will deliver the keynote speech.

Other panelists and moderators include:

  • Brent Cotter, University of Saskatchewan
  • Elaine Craig, Schulich School of Law
  • Adam Dodek, University of Ottawa
  • Allan Fineblit, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP
  • Charles Gluckstein, Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers
  • Stephen Goudge, Paliare Roland LLP
  • Julia Holland, Torys LLP
  • Gavin Hume, Harris & Co
  • Jasminka Kalajdzic, Windsor Law School
  • Darrel Pink, Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
  • Stephen Pitel, Western University
  • Amy Salyzyn, University of Ottawa
  • Noel Semple, Windsor Law School

Although I won’t be attending this year, I do have an ethical question for the panels to consider, especially in light of the topic of Dr. Vaughan’s keynote address about the too-cosy relationships between large law firms and some major clients:

Example Situation: A Large Law Firm lawyer acts unethically. Should the law firm refund the client’s payments for ‘work done’?

And just to make it interesting for the discussion panels at the Ethics Forum, the following example is real, and involves one of the law firms (but not the lawyers) participating on the panels:    Read more

Advice for self-represented litigants, Part 2: The Important Rule that most self-represented litigants never learn, or learn too late.

lying lawyers Canada Barbados 5-SANThe Important Rule that most self-represented litigants never learn, or learn too late:

It is an opposing lawyer’s duty in law to deceive and obstruct you.

“Be instantly wary of any advice, suggestion, question or information from opposing counsel. They do not have your interests in mind; quite the opposite.”

For the moment, forget about Civil or Criminal court procedures. You need to know about the lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct; because these rules allow lawyers to deceive, cheat, abuse and obstruct the self-represented litigant in ways that ordinary people might consider to be unethical, unfair or unjust.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

The most formidable challenge of being a self-represented litigant (‘SRL’) is that you must play in a game where the complete rules are known only to your opponents and to the referee (who is called ‘the judge’).

There are different sets of rules for different types of cases and different courts. The rules for Criminal proceedings differ so much from Civil procedure that most lawyers hesitate to cross into the other area of practice in all but the simplest cases. I personally saw one of Canada’s most senior and respected criminal lawyers overwhelmed by the Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure in just a few months. He charged me $60,000 for his reputation and then walked away. (And I thought, “If a man with 35 years before the criminal courts can’t figure out the rules of civil procedure, I’m toast.”)

The rules themselves are complex, and are made even more so by normal practice where rules can be bent, avoided and waived under various circumstances. Different courthouses can have different procedural sub-rules where legal documents must be filed a certain way at one courthouse, and another way in the next town.

There is also the reality that some judges routinely allow lawyers to break, bend or ignore various rules; even as the same judges slam self-represented litigants for being unaware of, or breaking, the same a rules or procedures.

And into the middle of all this chaos steps the self-represented litigant; desperately trying to learn enough of the rules and procedures to be effective against opposing counsel who might have 20 years or more appearing daily in the courts.

You don’t even know what you don’t know.   Read more

Advice for self-represented litigants, Part 1: Walking away is sometimes the best decision

Walking on Ice Litigation-private

Self-represented Litigant: “But I have so much invested in this case.”

Me: “You haven’t seen anything yet. You still have a car and a wife. If you continue, both will be gone by Summer.”

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Not a week goes by that I don’t receive at least two or three long emails from self-represented people who are facing personal disasters and injustices before the courts. Most of the writers tell of years-long legal battles where they started out represented by a lawyer, only to be forced by dwindling finances to take over the case themselves.

I remind them that the legal system is set up so that lawyers normally profit by dragging out litigation, not by winning or settling for their clients in a timely or effective manner.

The writers speak of their surprise in discovering that truth and justice don’t seem to matter to the courts; only the rules of civil procedure matter along with the unwritten rules of the court staff that often change on a daily basis. (Last week a white cover on filed legal documents was fine, this week it must be green, or blue. Double-sided was fine last month, but this week documents must be printed single sided… and on and on.)

While a very few of the writers are clearly unhinged (or have become so after years of obsessively seeking justice that will never happen), the vast majority who write to me are educated, intelligent people who are highly competent in their own professions. Yet, they find themselves struggling and caught up in legal systems designed to serve the needs of the legal profession first, and operated by lawyers and former lawyers (now known as ‘judges’).

Lawyers and judges frequently become angry with self-represented persons, whether their anger is due to frustration or is deliberately summoned to control, intimidate or damage. The system seems designed to allow lawyers to overwhelm and destroy citizens who cannot afford the price of legal counsel; even when the facts dictate that any jury would side with the self-represented litigant.   Read more

Big Law firms’ anonymous internet postings about clients, cases and legal opposition. Part 1 in a new series.

Miller Thomson Computer Crime SAN

“Let’s start with Miller Thomson LLP’s anonymous Internet postings about the National Hockey League Players Association and work up from there.”

Is it ethical for lawyers to anonymously post on the Internet about their cases, clients and legal opponents?

by Donald Best

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Since at least 2004, personnel from Miller Thomson LLP’s Toronto law office made dozens of anonymous Internet postings on Wikipedia.org and other websites; about clients, opponents and others involved in ongoing legal matters. I’ve also discovered that some other Big Law firms similarly made anonymous postings over the years.

But before the public calls upon the Law Society of Upper Canada to investigate, we had better ask “Who will watch the watchmen?”

As an example, my investigations show that in 2009 personnel from the law society themselves posted anonymously on Wikipedia.org about then Osgoode law student Wendy Babcock, a former Toronto sex-worker and political organizer. Babcock later committed suicide in 2011.

This extraordinary information is easily confirmed online by anyone with Internet access.

You’ll be able to confirm everything for yourself after reading this and other articles in the series. (So will investigators from the Law Society of Upper Canada; not that LSUC takes any action against BIG LAW firms like Miller Thomson LLP, but that is a separate issue.)

National Hockey League Players Association

Personnel from Miller Thomson’s Toronto law office anonymously posted on the Internet about the National Hockey League Players Association, former NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow and then NHLPA associate counsel Ian Pulver.

These anonymous Internet postings appear to have been made at a time when Miller Thomson LLP either represented some of the subjects of the articles, or represented other clients in existing and/or potential legal proceedings or negotiations involving the subjects.

Over the years, Miller Thomson law office personnel also made many other anonymous Internet postings about persons and entities involved in legal actions, negotiations and labour disputes. Although their motives are not always apparent, one thing that is clear is that Miller Thomson personnel chose to make these Internet postings anonymously instead of using their real names or attributing the postings to Miller Thomson.

Are MIller Thomson’s actions ethical? Do their actions contravene any rules of the Law Society of Upper Canada?

Lawyers and other law firm personnel deal with privileged, confidential and intimately private information daily. That these same lawyers and staff would anonymously post information online about their clients, cases and legal opponents should be of grave concern to the legal profession and governing bodies because it tends to undermine public confidence in lawyers and thus in the justice system itself.

Forensic investigations revealed the truth about this little-known activity by law firm personnel. Other Big Law firms have been up to the same thing: a coming article in the series will consider anonymous Internet postings by Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP and some other BIG LAW firms.

Are lawyers and law office personnel allowed to make anonymous Internet postings about their legal cases, clients and opponents?

To the ordinary Canadian, the Rules of Professional Conduct as posted on the website of the Law Society of Upper Canada appear to be so general and vague as to be almost useless as a guide in some of the incidents documented in this series. Other incidents I present in this new series are, however, obviously in violation of the LSUC Rules and of various Federal and Provincial laws as well.

Perhaps some lawyers out there might be able to comment after reading this article and others in the series.

I have identified a number of different types of anonymous internet activities that Miller Thomson and some other Canadian lawyers, law firms and legal personnel appear to be engaged in. In order of increasingly serious conduct:

  1. Anonymously changing the online public record about clients, cases and legal opponents.
  2. Anonymously spreading online rumours, misinformation & discord.
  3. Serious misconduct, including anonymous online threats against opposing witnesses, harassment, posting of confidential information including Identity Information as defined in the Criminal Code.

Once again, all of these activities happen in situations where the subjects of the anonymous conduct are either legal clients or opposing entities. And, in at least three examples I’ve found, personnel from law firms made anonymous internet postings about competing law firms and lawyers.

NHLPA Logo-private

Example #1: Miller Thomson personnel anonymously changed the public internet record about Robert W. “Bob” Goodenow, Executive Director of the National Hockey League Players Association       Read more

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