For lawyers (and everyone else) Integrity is easy – Courage is the hard part.
There will always be some lawyers and even a few judges who embrace greed, ignore the Rule of Law and engage in corrupt acts in support of powerful clients and cabals.
It is a part of the human experience that some individuals yield to temptation and forsake what is right and lawful.
The real danger though, is when the legal profession and its regulators turn a blind eye to lawyers and judges who choose to become “servants in the architecture of corruption.”
When this happens, corruption thrives and the Rule of Law soon withers away.
As shown in the circumstances of my case, Canadians deserve much better from the Law Society of Ontario, the legal profession and the courts. The Law Society of Ontario, the Ontario legal profession and the Canadian Judicial Council obviously fear transparency and accountability.
In this, Ontario lawyers and judges are little different than the policing organizations of 30 years ago who assured Canadians that they were capable of self-oversight with the public trust foremost in their agenda.
That was an absurdity and so the citizens of Ontario through their government established the Special Investigations Unit (‘SIU’) to take civiliian oversight of serious incidents involving police.
Why should the legal profession be allowed to investigate itself? There must be independent civilian oversight of investigations into wrongdoing by lawyers.
After almost 40 years spent interacting with ordinary people, the police, the legal profession and the courts in one way or another, I truly believe that most people are good at their core.
Really evil people are a minority in our society, and, I firmly believe, are a minority in any society.
Most people have integrity. They know in their heart – they feel in their heart – what is right and wrong and they try to do the correct thing; but… only when integrity is an easy choice.
Having courage is to act rightly despite your fears.
Courage is where most good people fail the test.
To do what is right when the pressure is on, when your employer or a powerful group wants you to compromise or ignore what you know is right, takes more than integrity. It takes courage.
Most of us do not have that kind of courage. That is a hard truth and one of the reasons why groups of corrupt people can sway societal systems and exert influence totally out of proportion to their numbers and actual strength.
Yet, sometimes all it takes is one courageous person to stand firm and declare that they will not do this or that for their employer. They will not deliver false evidence or ignore the truth in the face of powerful government officials.
But such decisions carry a price.
Sometimes the price of integrity is relatively modest: Professor John Knox of the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill in Barbados was warned to stop testifying in a certain court case or he would be fired. Professor Knox testified and soon found himself unemployed – fired from the University. Then he was abducted from the family home at gunpoint and beaten severely… but at least he still lives.
Sometimes the price of integrity is high: Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky refused to ‘confess’ to crimes and to falsely implicate others. For his defiance, corrupt police imprisoned him and then beat him to death in his solitary confinement jail cell. As corrupt as the murderous police were, they were only the instruments of a larger corrupt cabal that extended high into the Russian government.
And lest my readers receive the impression that serious corruption only happens ‘over there’, I clearly state that in Canada and in the United States, just like everywhere else, integrity is sometimes rewarded – but most often is punished when ruling groups are exposed or threatened.
Integrity is easy. Courage is the hard part.