Justice Bryan Shaughnessy chooses conflicted lawyer as personal counsel in Judicial Review – #1 in a series
Law Society of Upper Canada senior bencher Peter C. Wardle is Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy’s new attorney in an ongoing judicial review of a Canadian Judicial Council decision. However, in a closely related matter Wardle also represented two lawyers who are almost certain to be called as witnesses in a CJC investigation or public inquiry into misconduct allegations against Justice Shaughnessy.
Complicating the conflicts of interest even further, lawyers Gerald Ranking (left) and Lorne Silver may not be just witnesses. Court transcripts indicate it is also possible that these lawyers assisted Justice Shaughnessy in carrying out his judicial misconduct.*
This change of counsel comes after a Federal Court refused to release Justice Shaughnessy as a party in the judicial review of a CJC decision about the judge.
The unprecedented January 17, 2017 Federal Court decision also ordered Justice Shaughnessy to personally pay the legal costs of Donald Best, a self-represented litigant that the Ontario Superior Court Justice sent to prison for contempt of court.**
No other judge in Canadian history has been ordered to pay legal costs.***
Did Conflict of Interest complaints cause Ontario’s Attorney General to resign as Justice Shaughnessy’s lawyer?
Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General (‘AGO’) no longer represents Justice Shaughnessy in the ongoing Judicial Review. The AGO had been acting as the judge’s personal lawyer for almost a year – since April 2016.
Justice Shaughnessy’s new lawyer filed a document in court indicating that Justice Shaughnessy and the AGO went their separate ways on March 1, 2017. This was a week after DonaldBest.CA published an article describing how, with the AGO acting as the judge’s personal attorney, nobody was acting for the public interest at the Judicial Review.**
Readers complained to Ontario Attorney General
Following publication of that DonaldBest.CA article, at least half a dozen readers reported that they had written to Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi expressing disapproval that the AGO was acting as personal lawyer to a judge accused of serious misconduct, instead of acting for the people of Ontario and the public interest.
Readers questioned both the optics and actual conflicts of interest in having the AGO personally representing a judge before whom Crown Prosecutors appear daily asking for convictions, sentences, court orders and search warrants. Some readers who are also lawyers opined that Justice Shaughnessy should have hired independent counsel from the start, albeit paid for by the public purse.
Justice Shaughnessy’s latest choice of lawyer, however, only ramps up questions about conflicts of interest and the optics of the apparent relationships between big law firms, the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, the Attorney General of Canada – and a Federally appointed judge accused of serious, premeditated misconduct.
Shaughnessy’s Judicial Misconduct
- “In all my years of practicing law, this is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen a judge do.”
- “Reprehensible misconduct by a judge that undermines the very foundations of justice.”
- “Shaughnessy’s misconduct is worthy of his removal from the bench.”
The above comments were made by several senior lawyers, including a retired Crown Attorney, upon examining evidence proving that on May 3, 2013 in a backroom after court had finished, Justice Shaughnessy secretly increased Donald Best’s jail sentence and secretly created and substituted a new warrant of committal – off the court record, without informing the prisoner and in contravention of the sentence and order the judge himself delivered earlier in court on the record.****
Judicial Review of Canadian Judicial Council’s summary dismissal of Best’s complaint
While Donald Best was in prison, another Superior Court Justice, apparently horrified at what Justice Shaughnessy had done, released Best after his newly hired lawyer Paul Slansky filed a writ of habeas corpus. Best spent a total of 63 days in prison, with every day served in brutal solitary confinement as he is a former Toronto Police sergeant/detective.*****
Best later filed a complaint against Justice Shaughnessy with the Canadian Judicial Council. After CJC Director Norman Sabourin summarily dismissed the complaint without an investigation and without providing reasons, Best’s lawyer filed an Application for a Judicial Review of the CJC’s actions.
It is this Judicial Review that is now making its way through the Federal Court of Canada.
New Series: ‘Abandoning Public Trust: Conflicts of Interest by Ontario’s legal profession’
This is Part 1 of our new series exploring conflicts of interest in Ontario’s legal profession. The series starts with examples noted by former Toronto Police Sergeant Donald Best during his eight-year journey through Ontario’s justice system after being convicted of contempt of court and imprisoned on provably fabricated and false evidence.
As the series progresses, we will broaden our view to examine how the legal profession’s unenforceable ‘rules’ and standards about conflicts of interest are designed to ease public and client concerns while actually providing as much latitude as possible to lawyers and law firms in their quest for profits.
Abandoning Public Trust: Conflicts of Interest by Ontario’s legal profession
Part 1: Justice Bryan Shaughnessy chooses conflicted lawyer as personal counsel in Judicial Review.
Part 3: Did Lawyers Ranking and Silver know of Justice Shaughnessy’s intentions and actions? Did they assist in his judicial misconduct?
Part 4: Should conflicted lawyer Peter C. Wardle resign from representing Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy?
Part 5: Abandoning the Public Interest. When Canada’s legal profession, regulators and government circle the wagons to save club members, who looks after the interests of Canadians?
Part 6: Previous incident – How Justice Shaughnessy backdated a court order for lawyers Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver.
… Additional articles in this series will be added later.
Notes and Links
*See Parts 2 & 3 of this series.
***No other judge in Canadian history has been ordered to pay legal costs.
Although this writer is open to correction, research to date indicates that this is the first time ever in Canadian, British and U.S. legal history where a judge has been ordered to personally pay the legal costs of anyone – let alone a person he sent to prison. Justice Shaughnessy did not appeal the order of the court, which is now confirmed.
****Background, supporting court documents and details of Justice Bryan Shaughnessy’s May 3, 2013 misconduct can be found in the following artlcles:
*****Read Donald Best’s article published in The Globe and Mail: Solitary confinement is pure torture. I know, I was there
Notice from the Publisher
If any person disagrees with anything published at DonaldBest.CA or wishes to provide a public response or comment, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will publish your writing with equal prominence. Comments left on articles are moderated at least once a day.
Public domain photo of Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy has been modified to remove others in the background and is a new work by Donald Best. Photos have been included to put context to the article. Their use is the same as with other Canadian news outlets.
Barrie, Ontario, Canada