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

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.

Federal Court proceeding commenced against Canadian Judicial Council, Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

Court asked to rule on foundational issues concerning the Canadian Judicial Council and a Federal Judge.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

On April 14, 2016, my lawyer, Paul Slansky, filed on my behalf a Notice of Application in the Federal Court of Canada; seeking a Judicial Review of the Canadian Judicial Council’s decision regarding my complaint against the Honourable Mr. Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy for his actions on May 3, 2013.

The relief I am asking for is outlined in the Notice of Application, which is published here both as a .pdf file and in text below. Where the text and the .pdf file differ, the .pdf file is the accurate copy of the legal papers filed with the court.

It is my understanding that the issues before the court are far larger than just my personal case, and are of importance to all Canadians.

Legal professionals, lawyers and judges who read this Notice of Application will certainly recognize the serious implications of the issues brought forward in this court action.

This is a legal document and reads that way, so you might want to start with some of the articles previously published on DonaldBest.CA…

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

A copy of the Notice of Application as filed before the court can be download here in .pdf format: Notice of Application Best v CJC, Shaughnessy pdf – 900kb

As well, I publish the Notice of Application in text format below. (NOTE: The text below may contain formatting and other errors, and is provided only for online convenience. The .pdf file above is the only accurate copy of the papers filed with the court.)

As always, I remind my readers that this is still before the courts. If any person disagrees with anything I’ve published or wishes to provide a public response or comment, please contact me at info@donaldbest.ca and I will publish your writing with equal prominence.

Court File No.: T-604-16

IN THE FEDERAL COURT OF CANADA

B E T W E E N:

DONALD BEST

Applicant

– and –

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA

and

THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE J. BRYAN SHAUGHNESSY

Respondents

NOTICE OF APPLICATION

(Pursuant to ss. 18-18.1 Federal Courts Act,

and ss. 24, 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982)

TO THE RESPONDENT:

A PROCEEDING HAS BEEN COMMENCED AGAINST YOU by the applicant. The relief claimed by the applicant appears on the following page.   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

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

Justice system rules and practices unfairly place self-represented litigants at tremendous disadvantage

courtroom-private

The deck is already stacked against self-represented litigants. Prohibiting the use of an assistant in court further ensures that self-represented litigants will lose.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Self-represented litigants often face a phalanx of lawyers in court; with each lawyer having their own junior to take notes and assist with exhibits and case management during the hearing.

In contrast to the latitude and even deference extended to their fellow legal professionals, most judges prohibit self-represented litigants from having an assistant or non-lawyer advisor in court. This systemic favouritism places self-represented litigants at serious disadvantage even when arguing relatively simple cases, but is devastating in more complex cases where there might be dozens or even hundreds of documents and other exhibits in play.

In my company’s civil case (Nelson Barbados Group Ltd. vs Cox et al), the defending lawyers filed tens of thousands of pages of documents as exhibits. As a self-represented litigant during my Contempt of Court hearing, I had to appear before the court alone and attempt to make my own notes as I simultaneously hunted through boxes for reply documents and exhibits.

The opposing lawyers, Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver, made team notes and took turns handling the exhibits as the other addressed the court. Occasionally there would also be junior lawyers taking notes. The lawyers refused me permission to make recordings, so I was left waiting sometimes weeks for transcripts before I had accurate notes of what had transpired in court or at examinations.

This type of systemic bias by the justice system and courts against self-represented persons is simply unacceptable in an age where so many citizens cannot afford legal representation. Access to Justice is a human rights issue. It’s time that the legal profession acknowledged the systemic bias against self-represented persons.

Dr. Julie Macfarlane of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project just posted an excellent article about self-represented litigants being forced to appear alone in court. Well worth your time:

The Loneliness of the Self-Represented Litigant

When her case was called, Maria (not her real name) walked towards the front table in the courtroom and, anxiously shifting her papers, asked the judge if she could have her sister sit with her during the hearing. She explained that she could not take notes and listen to what was being said at the same time, and her sister could help her by taking notes for her. Maria said that she had become so overwhelmed the last time she appeared in court that she had started to cry, and felt humiliated getting so upset in public, in front of the people watching in the courtroom. If her sister could sit beside her, it would help her to stay calm and centred.

The judge said no. You have to make your own case, or go and get a lawyer.

But my sister would not speak, she would just take notes, Maria tried to explain.

The judge told her to stop talking and sit down.

Continue reading The Loneliness of the Self-Represented Litigant

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

Guest Column: How one self-represented litigant lost in court, but won the larger battle

blind-justice canada-private

Reader ‘John” reminds us that ‘Justice’ can sometimes be won outside of court

I have seen one self represented litigant actually win, but in the court of public opinion after the case was tossed for a technicality in filing.

In 1995 or thereabouts Leonard Earl St. Hill represented the Scotland District Association against the Attorney General and Prime Minister of Barbados.

Mr. St. Hill was no lawyer. He appeared before Mr. Frank King and was opposed by the Attorney General.

The Prime Minister of Barbados, as far as the Scotland District Association alleged, acted ultra vires in placing a garbage dump in the National Park on land zoned for the supply of water.

Once the case was lost the Government applied for security for costs of $60,000 BDS if I remember correctly, effectively killing the appeal.

Richard Goddard and others mobilized opposition to the plan to locate the garbage dump in the National Park.

Funnily enough, it happened in Barbados.

Even funnier, the Attorney General was David Simmons, MP for St. Thomas and member of the then ruling Barbados Labour Party.

Simmons caused a storm when he was elevated to the Chief Justice of Barbados in 2001. The Prime Minister was Owen Seymour Arthur.

Both of them and Barbados are known to Mr. Best in his trials.

It is estimated that the Government of Barbados spent in excess of BDS$50 million (US$25 million) trying to mitigate the land slip issues but the springs in the hills above the dump made it into a lake, just as predicted by members of the Scotland District Association.

Twenty years later, no garbage has been dumped there; a victory in the court of public opinion for the Scotland District Association.

It was also a victory for common sense.

Sometimes victories are not won in a court of law and sometimes a loss in court is a win.

This article originally left as a comment by ‘John’ on Advice for self-represented litigants, Part 1: Walking away is sometimes the best decision

1 2 3 4