4,000+ visitors in the past 3 days. Thank you Toronto Star, The Canadian Press, Colin Perkel

What’s that old saying about there being no bad publicity?

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Now I truly understand why (according to a friendly TorStar reporter) the Toronto Star has had an editor’s ‘kill’ on my story for the past three years – to the point of removing my reader comments from their website even when my comments had nothing to do with my legal case or personal situation.

The Toronto Star made ‘Donald Best’ and ‘DonaldBest.CA’ disappear from their website.

Could it be libel chill that caused the newspaper to censor my story, name and website? Could it have something to do with the fact that two of the senior lawyers I sued regularly act for the Toronto Star and other mainstream news media, even representing them all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada on occasion?

Big Media won’t allow their journalists to cover my story

In the last few years I’ve been interviewed by many Canadian journalists from such outlets as the Toronto Star, National Post, Sun Media, Globe and Mail and CTV.

It usually starts in the same manner. The reporter stumbles across my website, listens to the voice recordings, downloads the transcripts and other evidence and then contacts me almost breathless for an interview. Their instinct tells them there are several good stories here, and their healthy professional skepticism is soon satisfied by the quality of my evidence.

(It’s tough to dispute forensically-certified voice recordings of me telling lawyers that I did NOT receive a certain court order – and then read the same lawyers’ sworn testimony and transcripts falsely telling the judge that during the same telephone call I ‘confessed’ that I HAD received the court order. What the lawyers did is called ‘perjury’ and ‘obstruct justice’.)

Each time I politely answer the journalist’s questions, provide them with the backup evidence they request, and each time nothing appears in the news media. A very few journalists contacted me afterwards and in a forthright manner explained in frustration and perhaps some shame what I already knew was happening.

The mainstream news media has censored my story since 2013, yet four days ago on June 21, 2016, only hours after the Appeal Court of Ontario released a decision that was critical of my lawyer Paul Slansky, the Toronto Star, National Post and Toronto Sun all ran the same one-sided, incomplete and inaccurate story about my lawyer and my case.

Journalist Colin Perkel

Award-winning senior Canadian Press Journalist Colin Perkel

Did the powers that be decide that the award-winning Canadian Press reporter Colin Perkel should write a story and it would be published nationwide? Or, did Mr. Perkel somehow trip across an Appeal Court release within a few hours, decide to cover the story himself and then convince his editors to publish?

Mr. Perkel never contacted me. His story contains inaccuracies, no background and certainly no reference to DonaldBest.CA where Canadians can listen to voice recordings, examine the evidence and decide what happened for themselves.  Read more

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

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

Ghomeshi verdict highlights a Double Standard

Former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi

Former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi

Courts slam witnesses for lying, but one group gets a pass.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

The reality in criminal courts is, like it or not, that if a major witness is exposed lying, fabricating evidence, grossly exaggerating or in any way modifying their evidence to better ensure a conviction, then the charges against the accused will likely be dismissed.

Jian Ghomeshi, the former CBC Radio host, was found not guilty on four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance in connection with allegations made by three women. The judge overseeing the case, Ontario Court Justice William Horkins, said about the witnesses, “The act of suppression of the truth will be as damaging to their credibility as a direct lie under oath.”

Each of the three witnesses did not tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but truth, therefore the judge tossed the charges.

Justice Horkins came down hard on the witnesses, going as far as to criticize the three complainants for their “willingness to ignore their oath to tell the truth on more than one occasion.” (Globe & Mail: Truth and deception: Ghomeshi verdict a good day for justice)

The judge found that the witnesses were on a mission to bring Mr. Ghomeshi down. In one of the thousands of e-mails Ms. DeCoutere exchanged with S.D, she said she wanted to see Ghomeshi “decimated.” Add the fact that each of the witnesses was caught lying to the court and you open the door for charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice and commit perjury. Those charges will not happen because the public would be outraged, but perjury is perjury even if the witness was sexually assaulted and is truly a victim.

Ghomsehi was a trial very much in the public eye, so everything had to be done according to the law as best as the judge could. Public interest and press scrutiny really do assist to keep judges on the straight and narrow.

Justice Horkins did what had to be done in the Jian Ghomeshi case. He followed the rule of law and ignored the political, public and other influences.

Double Standard when it comes to lying to the court

The judge’s action in Ghomeshi highlights a double standard in the justice system; the courts always condemn witnesses for lying – but regularly look the other way when lawyers lie to the judge and knowingly place false evidence into the court record.

Even when irrefutable evidence proves that lawyers fabricated evidence and lied to the court, the rules about perjury and obstruction of justice go by the wayside as the legal profession and the courts do everything possible to save fellow members of ‘The Club’ – even if it means sending an innocent man to jail.

Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

In my case, Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy convicted me in absentia (I was not present) of ‘contempt of civil court’ and sentenced me to three months in jail; during a hearing I was unaware of.

I was in Asia at the time when opposing lawyers rushed through a civil costs hearing over the Christmas season. At that hearing, lawyers Gerald Rankin and Lorne Silver lied to Justice Shaughnessy and knowingly placed false evidence into the court record.

The lawyers falsely told the judge in a written ‘Statement for the Record’ and also orally in court that, during a phone call with the lawyers, I told them that I had received a copy of a certain court order. In fact, during that phone call I told the lawyers over twelve times that I had not received the court order and would they please send it to me.

Later, when confronted with my letter to the judge accusing them of lying to the court and fabricating evidence, Mr. Ranking (Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP) and Mr. Silver (Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP) doubled down on their corrupt activities and assured Justice Shaughnessy that their version of the events was true, that they categorically rejected my version and that I was therefore lying.

What Ranking and Silver did not know was that I had secretly recorded the phone call.  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

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

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

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.

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