Crown Attorney’s concern: Public needlessly at risk from Ontario lawyers’ criminal conduct

Brampton crown attorney Steve Sherriff says that the Law Society of Upper Canada’s policy of not reporting crimes by lawyers to the police is “wrong”. Mr. Sherriff is also concerned that “the public is needlessly at risk” from lawyers’ criminal conduct because of this ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ LSUC policy.

The recent ‘Broken Trust‘ series of articles in the Toronto Star quotes Mr. Sherriff and victims of crimes by lawyers, and looks into why over 80% of Ontario lawyers who commit serious criminal offences in relation to their law practice never face criminal sanctions.

In the Toronto Star series, Thomas Conway, former Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC), the organization responsible for regulating and disciplining Ontario lawyers, seems to disagree with Mr. Sherriff. The LSUC treasurer says that the organization is prevented from reporting lawyers who commit crimes to the police even though regulating bodies in some other provinces do make reports to their local police.

But what if LSUC itself became internally aware of allegations that a lawyer had committed crimes? What would happen then? Would the Law Society of Upper Canada itself step in and conduct an investigation, seize evidence, examine the court files and interview witnesses?

According to documents filed in Ontario courts, in November of 2012 former Toronto police officer and undercover investigator Donald Best wrote detailed letters to both the CEO and Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada, Robert G.W. Lapper Q.C. and Thomas G. Conway, asking for assistance in retaining a lawyer. The letters also contained allegations of criminal and other offences by Ontario lawyers.

Mr. Best explained his predicament to Mr. Lapper and Mr. Conway thus:  

“Several lawyers recommended that I contact the two of you at the Law Society of Upper Canada for assistance because the special circumstances of my case are deterring lawyers from representing me.

The difficulty I am experiencing in finding a lawyer stems from the fact that I have a voice recording* of my telephone conversation with two Ontario lawyers that, according to several experienced and senior counsel, proves the lawyers advertently misled the Court both in writing and orally.

I was subsequently convicted of civil contempt in absentia upon this (false) evidence created and submitted to the court by the two lawyers. In his reasons for my conviction, the judge specifically mentioned that he was relying upon the evidence of the two lawyers: their version of what was said in a phone call versus my version. My voice recording proves the evidence upon which I was convicted of civil contempt was a fabrication by the two lawyers.”

and “Some of the junior and senior lawyers I have spoken with were very forthright and told me that they cannot go against the big law firms because they receive work from them. Some have told me they work daily in the same professional or personal circles as the lawyers and firms who oppose me, and they cannot in these circumstances bring evidence or a motion that would harm the careers of the other lawyers.

One very senior civil lawyer told me “All lawyers lie. Live with it. Get over it.” Obviously I did not retain this man.

I am getting rather desperate because no experienced civil lawyer appears ready to take my case and I have approached dozens.”

Mr. Best also alleged in his letters that anonymous, threatening and harassing emails were sent to his witnesses from the Toronto office of the Miller Thomson LLP law firm as early as 2004. (At that time people were generally not aware that sending anonymous emails and other internet activities left trails of electronic evidence.) Some of the forensic evidence about this misconduct by Miller Thompson LLP law office personnel is posted on DonaldBest.CA here (PDF 424kb) and here (PDF 2mb).

In his letter to the LSUC, Mr. Best said:

“Anonymous threats to witnesses from Miller Thomson LLP computers

There is also strong forensic evidence that a series of threatening and harassing anonymous emails to my witnesses originated from the computer systems of one of the involved large Toronto law firms (Miller Thomson), starting in at least 2004 and carrying on for many years. There is strong documentary evidence that the Miller Thomson law firm was provided with this evidence in writing in 2009 and 2010, yet the firm’s lawyer, Mr. Andrew Roman, withheld the evidence from the judge during my case: all the while arguing that his client and firm were not involved.”

Copies of Mr. Best’s letters to the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the response he received are available here:

20121128 LSUC Best Letters  (PDF 489kb)

What did the Law Society of Upper Canada do after receiving Mr. Best’s allegations that lawyers had lied to the court and also emailed anonymous threats to his witnesses?

To our knowledge at DonaldBest.CA, after receiving Mr. Best’s letters the Law Society of Upper Canada did nothing to examine the evidence filed with the court, including a secretly made recording about which Mr. Best stated “according to several experienced and senior counsel, proves the lawyers advertently misled the Court both in writing and orally.” To our knowledge the LSUC did nothing to preserve or examine evidence at the involved law firms.

To our knowledge the Law Society of Upper Canada did nothing to preserve or examine the Miller Thomson LLP law firm’s computer network and other communications records to determine which Miller Thomson personnel were responsible for the emailed threats to Mr. Best’s witnesses.

As the recently filed civil suit ‘Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking, Lorne Silver et al’ proceeds through the Ontario courts, perhaps additional facts will surface that will explain why the Law Society of Upper Canada made the decisions it did upon receiving Mr. Best’s letters.

None of the allegations has yet been proven in a court of law, and to our knowledge none of the ‘Best v. Ranking’ defendants has filed a Statement of Defence. Visitors to this website are encouraged to examine the legal documents and other evidence posted here and to make up their own minds about the civil lawsuit known as ‘Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking et al’. (Superior Court of Justice, Central East Region: Barrie, Court File No. 14-0815)

The Statement of Claim issued July 18, 2014 can be downloaded in PDF format right here:

20140718 Statement of Claim ‘Best v. Ranking et al’  (pdf 1.3mb)

* Legally Made Secret Voice Recordings

In Canada it is legal for anyone to record a conversation as long as at least one party provides consent. In other words, if only one person in a room or during a group telephone conversation provides consent for the conversation to be recorded, then the recording is legally made. There is no requirement to notify the other persons that you are making a recording of the conversation.

Different rules apply to the police and agents of the police.

All of the voice recordings presented at DonaldBest.CA were legally made according to Canadian law.

20 comments

  • More and More people are representing themselves. First you have to know “solicitors act of ontario” The bottom line is do lawyers work for them selves ? Well, is the Queen English?

  • I taped my lawyer who was not working in my best interest. I did not report him but did not pay him for four years of fees. I obtained another lawyer and settled-likely because of all my recordings and offering to go away if we settled well in my favor.

  • Thank you Donald Best, I know you have had your share of legal abuse from your web site and appreciate your efforts in trying to expose the corruption. There are very few people with the courage and integrity to try to make a difference as you have as I have a great respect for your efforts and enjoy reading your blogs.

    I am trying to make a difference in Windsor Ontario and have been thrown in jail to obstruct my family from justice. I will keep trying but worried I might end up in bottom of Detroit river before I get a chance to bring evidence in. The money the lawyers defrauded us out of in this endless legal battle was suppose to go to my two young daughters for an education. This would be the cause for my determined efforts to expose this corruption. Ten lawyers obstruct me from my own family accounts as an executor to estate and all policing agencies refuse to investigate or protect our family.

    Ontario is in a very bad way if ten lawyers can work together to wipe out a families life savings then throw the victim they defrauded in jail.

    Sincerely, Dave Simetic

    • I believe Mr. Simetic that by posting on line you will not end up in the Detroit River. This is why they will always try to silence people with lawsuits because its public exposure that puts them in the spotlight for which they do not like. Mr. Best has beautifully brought the public to the awareness of what is happening in the Ontario Court system and then went further to prove what the Law Society of Upper Canada has done as well NOTHING

      Cover up continually at all various levels that Mr. Best went to get justice but finally has been successful at the Federal Court level where the Judge made an unprecedented ruling forcing Judge Shaughnessy to pay his court costs. This unprecedented ruling is going to make it very difficult for the judge to whitewash with his expertise legal counsel. That is fact not fiction. The public is watching and so is the media.

  • Pingback: Does Canada’s justice system hold any hope for common citizens? – DonaldBest.CA

  • Pingback: 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. | Donald Best.CA

  • We should have an independent agency to oversee and investigate alleged misconduct by lawyers. From my personal experience I can attest to the fact that lawyers lie, scheme and fabricate. I presume they would not be lawyers if they did not. Anyway, once upon a time I discovered that the lawyers of the entity against which I was litigating lied through their teeth. To their misfortune I had irrefutable documentation in my possession proving their unethical and illegal conduct. Or so I thought. After drafting up and filing a comprehensive and much substantiated complaint to the LSUC with all the supporting documentation attached as appendices, I very quickly received their response saying they were not going to do anything about it. Period.

    • What would be your opinion regarding a lawyer that obviously takes money on the side to steer a potential lawsuit away from the company that paid him the lawyer money behind the scenes? Isnt that cause for disbarment? or would not the tax man be interested in money on the side that is not taxed as income? have an audit done and you better have all your i’s dotted and t’s crossed if your just an average citizen but dont worry they will look the other way at possible money laundering or tax evasion if your part of the Bay Street cabal or other influential person.

      Is that how people reading this website perceive the goings on in Donald Bests case or other cases brought to light through comments on here? The LSUC needs to be under investigation as well because they are not doing their job and protecting obvious criminal activities because illegal conduct is just that-illegal conduct therefore you need a trustworthy entity to enforce measures on those who conduct themselves illegally.

  • Can I donate to Best's legal fund?

    Your story is not so unusual, as you say “all lawyers lie” . what makes it compelling is that unlike others in this situation mr. best was a skilled investigator who made tape recordings, kept good evidence etc. Any jury would eat this up. Can I send some help (money) to mr. best’s legal fund. How would I do that?

  • Concerned Lawyer

    LSUC The Law Society of The Upper Caste — where all the untouchables are at the top, free and clear of the most felonious behaviour.

    There should be no more pretence to the public that this body disciplines its own.

    All graduates when being sworn in should just affirm that “All Lawyers Lie– Get Over It”

  • terrible audio tape

    What a terrible audio tape of the lawyers. It proves everything. I don’t understand why the law society doesn’t do something about these unethical lawyers. Dont they know that the reputation of every ontario lawyer is hanging in the balance if they ignore this misconduct? Good lord!

  • It is disgusting that no lawyer would represent an innocent man because he had a tape recording showing lawyers set him up and lied to the court. Shameful behaviour by the Law Society to leave an innocent man to be thrown in jail.

  • Thank you for your website. It is uplifting to know that I’m not the only victim of lying lawyers. Like “screwed” I didn’t make a tape recording of my lawyer and I should have.

    We need to start a movement to secretly record your lawyer. I didn’t realize this was legal in canada.

    Good luck!

  • At least he (Best) made a tape recording of the conversation that proves the lawyers lied. In my situation I didn’t make a tape and my lawyer lied about what I said and wrote me a letter with the lie in it. I should have taped my own lawyer and it cost me 25% of my house value in a divorce. LYING LAWYERS is right!

  • the stats of the TorStar investigation say it all. the Law Society is a cover-up machine. it is a lawyer’s union that naturally puts its members first and the public second.

  • Upon reading Mr. Best’s letters to Mr. Conway I cannot believe that no investigation was launched. Mr. Conway performed excellently during his term as Treasurer and is a solid dependable lawyer.

    Whether or not Best was making a formal complaint the Law Society of Upper Canada must have carried out a proper investigation based on the contents of the letters alone. Surely LSUC (terrible acronym by the way) would have gone to the law offices and inspected files as they do every day investigating complaints.

    How is this website sure that no investigation was carried out? Reading the letters it is impossible to believe that something was not done.

  • Lying Lawyers.CA

    Have you ever suffered from a crime committed by a lawyer? What, if anything, was done about it?

    • I suffered this time and again and absolutely NOTHING was done about it. Politicians refuse to do anything, judges refused to do anything, well except they joined in bullying and cover up by abusing their power and behaved more criminally than the lawyers

      In one instance I suffered physical violence and the police refused to investigate while the SUCCESSIVE relevant minister of government turned a blind eye

      I can say in the justice system you get hit by a bigger criminal when you complain about a lower ranked criminal

      • The justice system is a publicly funded mirage! Our family is in ongoing fabricated legal battle also. Several lawyers busted on fraud regarding family estate in Windsor Ontario and police refuse to investigate. When I went to justice of the peace the fraud investigator who refuse to investigate threw me in jail 3 days before my court date to bring evidence in. been under house arrest now for 20 months and obstructed from justice.

        10 lawyers later and I am still obstructed from families accounts as an executor. We had aprox 1 million in assets and estate lawyer tried showing our family 600,000 dollars in assets.

        10 lawyers later our family never got a nickel. We found approx. 200,000 of missing assets the ten lawyers over looked plus my name removed as a beneficiary on 2 accounts after death. Are lawyers allowed to type out their own bank accounts and remove assets and beneficiaries from accounts? The LSUC, RCMP, OPP and local police seem to think so as they all refuse to investigate with ample proof of fraud. Ontario has become the most corrupt province in the country and a complete waste of tax payers money.

        Our family is destroyed and nobody will help!

        • Hello Mr. Simetic,

          Sorry to hear about your troubles, and wish you all the best as you seek justice.

          Although I have no knowledge about your case, I can assure you that millions of your fellow Canadians are concerned that access to justice is now beyond ordinary people’s abilities and resources. For millions of ordinary Canadians, the hope of any justice is a sham.

          Yours truly,

          Donald Best

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