Words from the Canadian Superior Court Judges Association… but do they really believe?

Canadian Superior Court Judges SAN

“No one in Canada is above the law. Everyone, no matter how wealthy or how powerful they are, must obey the law or face the consequences.”

Canadian Superior Court Judges Association ‘The Rule of Law

by Donald Best

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Time for some honesty and reality

There are times when, despite being over 60 years old and a former police detective, I feel like a naive boy scout to have had the solid faith I once had in our Canadian justice system.

My faith was not blind, but I believed that despite the weaknesses in our system, Canadians could be assured that there were no protected classes, and that no one was truly above the law. I no longer believe that.

In my life as a police officer, I twice said the words “I am arresting you for murder” – a phrase that not many of my fellow Canadians have spoken. Not many police officers have said those words once, let alone twice.

I have arrested police officers, priests, teachers, politicians, judges, nurses, bus drivers and school-aged children for everything from unpaid parking tickets to extortion and murder.

The Privileged Classes

And, rarely over the years, I’ve seen some from the privileged classes walk free from solid criminal charges when there was no logical reason in law for that to have happened. Read more

Smuggled rum bought a farm and truck

Grandfather Best Bootlegger SAN

A Family Confession

by Donald Best

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

As we discuss what is ethical behaviour and all the shades of right and wrong, I have a family confession: both my father and his father were bootleggers during the Depression and throughout World War II. Even as a decorated Chief Petty Officer during the Battle of the Atlantic, my father made considerable profits from smuggled rum and canned hams.

It could be fairly argued that smuggled rum and canned hams provided the financial foundation for several successful Best family businesses in Prince Edward Island and Ontario in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Indeed, it could also be said that the profits from bootleg liquor kept many a PEI family from starving during the dirty thirties. This, of course, was unbeknownst to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union wives (including my grandmother), who provided meals for the poor at the Freeland Presbyterian Church.

Profits from rum running also repaired the Freeland Presbyterian Church after the 1935 fire. Grandmother and the other womenfolk weren’t aware of the source of the re-construction funds even until they day they died. To this day my dear Aunts have no knowledge of this truth unless they read this post. Some family history is, to now, a male tradition.

The point of all this is that right and wrong, rule of law, ethics and law-breaking are not always a black/white either/or situation. Simple either/or solutions are not always possible in the real world.

That said; is is okay for lawyers to lie to the courts? Is it okay for police officers to illegally accept money from lawyers to work illegally for one side of a civil dispute?

Yes, there are shades of grey… but some behaviours can never be excused or explained away.

Canada’s Top Legal Ethics Stories of 2015

Miller Thomson Computer Crime SAN

Alice Woolley of the University of Calgary Faculty of Law lists her Top 10 Canadian legal ethics stories of 2015:

1. Judges behaving badly
2. Trinity Western University before the courts
3. National competency standard
4. The Supreme Court on money laundering
5. Lawyer advising
6. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
7. Resignation of Quebec’s bâtonnière
8. Regulatory innovation
9. Campaigning in the LSUC election
10. Joe Groia and civility regulation

To Alice’s list I’ll add two more. (You know I couldn’t help myself.)

11. Anonymous online threats against 82-year-old widow originated from Miller Thomson Law Office

12. 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

Julie Macfarlane, Denise Barrie, Chief Justice Michael MacDonald; shining stars of CBC’s Self-Representing Litigants special

“I think that the huge rise in the number of self-represented litigants in recent years is in some ways the great undiscussed issue of the legal system… More than half the people in Canadian family courts are there without lawyers…”

“We have a procedure in the legal system which has been around for a very long time, called ‘summary judgment’. It’s a way of forestalling or ending a case prematurely before it continues through the processes using up judicial and legal time. We found that there has been a huge rise in the number of summary judgment cases in the last ten years, and that most of those cases are now being brought where there’s a lawyer on one side and a self-represented litigant on the other.”

Julie Macfarlane, National Self-Representing Litigants Project; quoted in CBC’s The National feature The New Litigants #TheNewLitigants

“Sit down and SHUT UP!”

by Donald Best

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Over fifty percent of people appearing before Canadian family courts are self-represented litigants, yet according to CBC’s New Year’s Eve special The New Litigants, judges are still telling citizens representing themselves before the courts to “SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!”

Nova Scotia Chief Justice Michael MacDonald has a different idea. He instituted an educational program for self-represented litigants. Justice MacDonald is a leader who deserves praise.

The legal system is the good ship Titanic; trying desperately to steer clear of the deadly iceberg named ‘Injustice’. The rudder has been put full port; but will the heading change in time?

The CBC special above is well worth 18 minutes of your time.

Donald Best

Bestselling author Kenneth Eade tweets the Donald Best story of lawyer and police misconduct

Author Kenneth Eade Killer Lawyer-private

A pleasant surprise this morning to wake and find that bestselling legal thriller author Kenneth Eade tweeted about my case.  @KennethEade1 

His latest book Absolute Intolerance holds the lead on Amazon’s top seller list for thrillers.

Tonight I’ll dig into Eade’s Killer.Com that comes highly recommended by an old friend.

Thanks for the mention, Mr. Eade.

Donald Best

When lawyers and police break the law together, what justice can exist for ordinary citizens?

Faskens lawyer Gerald Ranking illegally hired OPP Sergeant Jim Van Allen to perform an illegal investigation. Section he Criminal Code calls it

Fasken Martineau lawyer Gerald Ranking (left) illegally hired OPP Sergeant Jim Van Allen to perform an illegal investigation to benefit Ranking’s clients. Section 120 (1)(a)(i) & (ii) of the Criminal Code calls that ‘Bribery of a Peace Officer’

Alabama: Yet another case of corrupt police and corrupt lawyers working together. 

by Donald Best

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Leaked documents reveal that for over ten years a group of corrupt Dothan, Alabama police officers (including the current Chief of Police) planted drugs and weapons on hundreds of innocent young black men.

Instead of stopping the practice and freeing the innocent prisoners, the local District Attorney covered up and colluded with the corrupt police.

Collusion between corrupt police and corrupt lawyers is a worrisome issue in the justice system simply because we are beginning to see increasing reports of this type. The news from Dothan, Alabama is only the latest story.

As I reported last March, Louisiana plaintiff Douglas Dendinger was arrested and charged with battery, obstruction of justice and intimidating a witness after five police officers and two prosecuting attorneys jointly provided false evidence that they saw Dendinger physically assault and intimidate a police officer as he served the officer with legal documents. Luckily for Mr. Dendinger that (as in my case) he had a hidden recording proving that the police and attorneys perjured themselves and lied to the court.

In my own case, lawyers and police committed various wrongdoing; including fabricating false and deceptive evidence, lying to the court, committing a fraud upon the court by representing a phoney non-existent business entity, anonymously threatening witnesses and illegally hiring a corrupt Ontario Provincial Police officer ‘on the side’ to perform illegal acts and other misconduct.

Canadians rely upon the legal profession to monitor the police, make rogue officers accountable and to act as a deterent. When corrupt lawyers work hand in hand with corrupt police officers, and the Law Society of Upper Canada covers up and whitewashes, how can ordinary citizens hope for justice?

Toronto Star closes reader commenting. No loss; they were already deleting any comments about Best vs. Ranking lawsuit or Donald Best

Toronto Star Commenting-private

by Donald Best

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

As the traditional news media struggles to survive in a world where everyone and anyone can publish a story or broadcast breaking news live from anywhere with just a mobile phone, newspaper publishers are being forced to make some tough choices.

Today the Toronto Star announced the immediate end of reader commenting. Visitor stats will surely suffer as I found myself returning five or ten times to various stories to watch the reader discussion unfold. Now I’ll read the story once and move on. It must be the same for many others.

Paul Schabas is probably Canada's foremost media lawyer

Paul Schabas is probably Canada’s foremost media lawyer (photo courtesy of the Toronto Star newspaper)

Killing the Donald Best story

It won’t really matter as far as my story goes, because the Toronto Star has been systematically deleting all mention of my name and court case in the comments for about a year.

Some of my friends have speculated as to why the Star has been censoring my story. Over the past year, several Star journalists expressed interest and even wild enthusiasm about my lawsuit and the solid evidence showing wrongdoing by lawyers and police, but (so I am told) there seems to be a roadblock at the editor level.

One of my friends speculates that this might have something to do with the fact that Paul Schabas of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, one of the lawyers I am suing, acts for the Toronto Star in many legal cases right up to the Supreme Court of Canada level. If it was true that Mr. Schabas was advising The Star not to cover my story, that would be interesting as in the many news stories I’ve read Mr. Schabas is always demanding the right to publish and fighting for freedom of the press.

Perhaps Mr. Schabas feels differently about freedom of the press when he and his fellow lawyers are the subject of the story?

Or, perhaps not.

In any event, The Star closed reader commenting at the newspaper’s website. Will the Globe and Mail or National Post follow the Star’s lead? And, will it really matter if they do?

 * Photo of Paul Schabas courtesy of the Toronto Star

Lawyer and police misconduct in Donald Best case “reads like a John Grisham novel”

John Grisham-Rogue Lawyer private

Perjury. Violence. Abduction. Threats to rape and murder witnesses. Anonymous internet threats from a Bay Street law firm. A Canadian judge’s secret backroom order.

Best vs. Ranking is just another civil lawsuit in Ontario Superior Court…

by Donald Best

by Donald Best

A judge once remarked on the record that my case reads like the plot from a John Grisham novel.

I can’t disagree. I wonder what Mr. Grisham himself might think. (Grisham photo above courtesy of the Toronto Star)

Like most Grisham novels the stakes in my case are high enough at US$120 million dollars to cause some lawyers, accountants, police officers and other professionals to step over the line.

Way over the line.

“My case is complex, but my April 23, 2015 sworn affidavit provides a basic summary and is, frankly, a pretty good page-turner at bedtime.”

Download Donald Best’s April 23, 2015 affidavit. (PDF 882kb without exhibits)

My case has seen some people on the other side (including certain lawyers and police officers) proveably commit various crimes including: fabricating evidence, lying to the court [1], fraudulently using a phoney non-existent ‘company’ as a lawyer’s client to petition the courts and transfer a million dollars [2], illegally hiring a corrupt OPP police sergeant ‘on the side’ to work against me in a civil lawsuit [3] and putting an innocent man in jail using proveably false, fabricated evidence. [4]

Welcome to civil litigation involving the Caribbean island nation of Barbados.

Also like a John Grisham novel, my witnesses, lawyers, myself and our family members have been the targets of a long-running campaign of violence, harassment and threats designed to deter us from seeking justice before the courts.

In the Greater Toronto Area, I was assaulted in the street. Also in the GTA, a man with a Caribbean accent approached and threatened one of my children over this case. My family’s auto was shot up. While my former lawyer was out of Canada litigating my case, his wife and family received an intimidating anonymous phone call from a person with a Barbados accent. My lawyer’s wife gathered up her children and fled their Orillia, Ontario home in terror; exactly as was intended by the caller.

One of my witnesses was abducted and beaten at gunpoint by a person connected with the other side in Barbados. One of my witnesses was threatened with job loss if he testified, and was fired from the University of the West Indies after he testified anyway.

Illegally and behind my back, an Ontario judge secretly substituted a changed court order in a backroom meeting; off the court record and without notifying me even though I was a self-represented litigant. This kind of judicial ‘Star Chamber’ activity regularly happens in Iran or Russia, but surely not in Canada; except when it does. [5]   Read more

Police and media response to Lynelle Cantwell and ‘Ugliest Girls’ online poll shows double standard

Cyberbullying victim Lynelle Cantwell (photo courtesy of Toronto Star)

Lynelle Cantwell (photo courtesy Toronto Star)

ST. JOHN’S, N.L.—A school board in Newfoundland and police are now investigating a case of cyberbullying involving an anonymous poll ranking girls at a high school based on their looks.

Lynelle Cantwell, a student at Holy Trinity High School in Torbay, is getting national attention for her response to the creators of the online poll, called “Ugliest Girls in Grade 12.”

Toronto Star: ‘Ugliest Girls’ online poll under police investigation in Newfoundland

by Donald Best

by Donald Best

Opposing internet bullying is a popular cause these days. Investigating online bullying is also a popular police activity that nets law enforcement easily-gained positive recognition in the community; but only as long as the perpetrators are low hanging fruit like high school students and not members of a protected class like lawyers from big Bay Street law firms.

The contrast is stark.

On one hand, a story about high school student Lynelle Cantwell and anonymous online poll for the ‘ugliest girls’ receives national news media attention about online bullying.

On the other hand, when sworn forensic evidence filed in Ontario Superior Court shows that personnel from the Toronto office of Miller Thomson LLP, one of Canada’s largest law firms, sent anonymous threatening internet messages to several witnesses in the Best v. Ranking civil lawsuit, the news media coverage is… Zero.

“The anonymous online messages and emails even include threats to murder and rape female witnesses.”

The anonymous threats and harassment originating from the Miller Thomson LLP law firm and elsewhere are part of a campaign of anonymous threats, harassment and criminal acts that has been ongoing for years, even to the present day.

Here are some samples taken from the court record:  Read more

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.

Ontario Superior Court of Justice-private

How Justice Shaughnessy:

– Secretly substituted a new Warrant of Committal that included an increased sentence,

– Misled a self-represented litigant and made an inaccurate court record transcript,

– Ordered a self-represented litigant excluded from parts of the legal process in his own civil case hearing.

20100115 Warrant Justice Shaughnessy SAN

20130503 Warrant Justice Shaughnessy SAN

 (click photos to see full size*)

by Donald Best

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police.

UPDATED: Canadian Judicial Council investigates Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy.

Original story, published December 2, 2015…

On May 3, 2013, I stood without a lawyer as an unrepresented / self-represented litigant before Ontario Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy. I heard his words refusing my application to overturn my January 15, 2010, conviction ‘in absentia’ and three-month sentence for Contempt of Civil Court in a civil litigation costs hearing. I had not attended the January 15, 2010 hearing as I was overseas and unaware of it.

The judge looked me straight in the eye and said on the court record that he was lifting the stay that he himself had placed upon his January 15, 2010, Warrant of Committal for my imprisonment and that I would now be taken to prison.

What Justice Shaughnessy didn’t tell me, and what I couldn’t know as the court police slapped on the handcuffs and took me to the cold cells below, was that even though my hearing was over and the judge had left the courtroom, he wasn’t quite finished with me.

While I paced in the basement cells awaiting transfer to prison, Justice Shaughnessy sat in some backroom where, off the court record, he secretly signed and substituted a new and changed Warrant of Committal that effectively increased my sentence by one-third.

Behind my back, the judge secretly arranged that I would only discover the increased sentence as a special surprise at some unknown time in the future; perhaps even months later as I neared my anticipated release date.

Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy

Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy placed none of this on the court record transcript. He did it secretly after he left the courtroom and after I was led away in custody. Had he wanted to, he could have called me back to court to inform me, or even come down to the cells to tell me.

Justice Shaughnessy said nothing of this new and increased sentence to me, to my lawyer when I had one, or to anyone else in court, either on May 3, 2013, or during the many preceding court dates attended over a period of nine months. Not having any knowledge of the judge’s intention to secretly substitute a new Warrant of Committal with an increased sentence, I did not have an opportunity to make submissions to him or to argue against the legality of his actions. He arranged everything so I would learn about my increased sentence from some prison guard.

Further, on May 3, 2013 Justice Shaughnessy washed his hands of me and ordered that I was never again to be brought before him, so he made sure that he would never have to face me after I learned of his backroom surprise. As noted on page 69 of the May 3, 2013 court record transcript, just before he left the courtroom Justice Shaughnessy said:

“Further, I will also notate that I am no longer seized of this matter and I hereby direct that any further and other applications relating to this proceedings are to be heard by another judge.”

An acquaintance later remarked that Justice Shaughnessy must have quite a wicked sense of humour; even if his values, ethics, sense of justice and fair play appear to fall short.

An unrepresented defendant is fair game in Ontario Superior Court

I doubt that Justice Shaughnessy would have even attempted to secretly increase my sentence and substitute a new Warrant of Committal had a lawyer represented me. But as I was only an ordinary Canadian before the court with no lawyer, I was fair game.   Read more

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