SHOCKER: Police secret investigation collected evidence of misconduct by Ontario Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy
Why are police investigating the Judicial Review of a Canadian Judicial Council decision? There are only a few possibilities – all troubling and some illegal.
Was Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy the target of the police investigation? Chief of Police refuses comment.
Durham Regional Police launched a secret investigation soon after Toronto lawyer Paul Slansky filed an Application for a Judicial Review of a Canadian Judicial Council decision regarding Superior Court Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy.
Internet records and correspondence with Chief of Police Paul Martin reveal that from at least May 31 to June 21, 2016, multiple Durham Regional Police investigators spent many days examining and downloading electronic evidence and legal documents filed in support of a judicial misconduct complaint by Donald Best against Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy.
Police investigators also collected evidence supporting Donald Best’s Application for Judicial Review of the CJC decision. At least three police investigators worked at the same time using different computers and mobile devices in a major investigation that lasted almost a month.
Several police sources and former law enforcement personnel (including this writer) confirm that this was a major deployment of investigative resources by the Durham Regional Police.
Police Detectives accidentally exposed major investigation
The secret investigation was discovered because the police detectives were apparently unaware that their computers were connected to the Internet through an ‘assigned Internet Protocol number’ that is registered to the Durham Regional Police. (IP number 126.96.36.199)
The police detectives were also apparently unaware that visitor records of the targeted website, DonaldBest.CA, would show their Durham Regional Police origin, the type of computer or other device used, operating system version, screen resolution, physical location & postal code, browser program version, Internet service provider, visitor activities, visitor history and much more.
Durham Regional Police adopt ‘Hide My Ass’ VPN
After Best’s lawyer Paul Slansky wrote a letter of concern to Chief of Police Paul Martin on June 15, 2016, police detectives started using the ‘Hide My Ass’ VPN virtual private network service to disguise their activities. This is a paid service, so either the Durham Regional Police or an individual police detective purchased a ‘Hide My Ass’ account in an attempt to conceal the ongoing investigation.
The police failed to correctly configure their ‘Hide My Ass’ software. As a result the DonaldBest.CA website administrator was still able to identify Durham Regional Police computers and document the continuing investigation. During the same time frame, many similar visits were traced to an IP number assigned to The Regional Municipality of Durham.
Durham Regional Chief of Police stonewalls questions
Lawyer Paul Slansky’s letter to Chief Martin included evidence of the police investigation, asked for an explanation and confirmation that the investigation was official and authorized. (Letter and attachments available below.)
Mr. Slansky wrote to Chief Martin:
“My client is concerned about why this is taking place. He has committed no crime. Why is the DRPS investigating him or his website? He feels intimidated by these actions. In light of the past ‘off the record’ investigation* by the DRPS, that he was advised of by Detective Rushbrook, my client is concerned that this may not be an official DRPS investigation.”
Chief of Police Paul Martin stonewalled Best’s lawyer and refused to provide any information at all. The Chief’s Executive Officer simply replied:
“Your client’s public website is easily accessible by any individual who wishes to view it. No further response to your letter will be provided.”
Who ordered the police investigation of a Judicial Review of a Canadian Judicial Council decision – and under what authority?
Was the intent of the police investigation to impact, interfere with or subvert the Judicial Review? Was the intent to intimidate a CJC complainant and his lawyer?
Was Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy the actual target of the police investigation?
There is no doubt that the Durham Regional Police initiated a secret investigation after Best’s lawyer served and filed an Application for a Federal Court Judicial Review of the decision of the Canadian Judicial Council regarding Donald Best’s complaint about the misconduct of Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy.
Best’s Application for a Judicial Review seems to have been the catalyst for the police investigation as for almost a year previously the DonaldBest.CA website published many articles about Justice Shaughnessy, his involvement in Best’s civil case and the CJC complaint against him. It was only when the Application for a Judicial Review was filed that the Durham Regional Police initiated their investigation.
- What is the true purpose of the Durham Regional Police investigation? What were the investigation goals? How were the results intended to be used, and by whom?
- Was Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy the target of the police investigation? Was the investigation assigned to the Durham Regional Police because they are the local agency in Oshawa where Justice Shaughnessy usually sits?
- Who ordered the investigation and under what authority in law?
- Who knew about the investigation?
- Who received reports or briefings about the police investigation?
- What were the results of the police investigation?
- Which senior police officers authorized this major deployment of investigative resources?
- Was this an official investigation with an occurrence number, document trail and retention of records? Or, was it an improper backroom use of police resources for a private purpose as happened previously in 2009 & 2010 as already documented in court records of Donald Best’s civil case?*
- What government and police databases were accessed during the investigation? What information was exchanged with other agencies and law enforcement agencies? Were other law enforcement agencies involved?
- Were Crown prosecutors consulted?
Parties served with the Application for the Judicial Review:
- Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy
- Attorney General of Ontario
- Attorney General of Canada for the Canadian Judicial Council.
Did any of the served parties overstep their authority in ordering a police investigation?
Did anyone intend that the Durham Region Police investigation would be used to impact, undermine or subvert the Judicial Review of a Canadian Judicial Council decision – or to intimidate the complainant Donald Best or his lawyer Paul Slansky?
Who ordered the Police Secret Investigation? Some Possibilities…
Attorney General of Canada (AGC)
Canadian Judicial Council, Director Norman Sabourin
The first thought that occurs to this writer is that if the Attorney General of Canada or the Canadian Judicial Council wanted to use the police to conduct a secret investigation, they would naturally turn to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The RCMP is our national police service, and is headquartered in Ottawa near the AGC and the CJC.
On the other hand, either the AGC or the CJC could have requested an investigation by the Durham Regional Police – which is the local police service in Oshawa where Justice Shaughnessy usually sits.
If, however, the AGC or the CJC did order the police investigation, this raises extensive ethical and legal questions about the limits of each entity’s authority and mandate.
Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG)
As with the federal Attorney General, it seems reasonable that if the MAG wanted to order a police investigation of the Judicial Review, of Justice Shaughnessy or of the complainant to the CJC, Donald Best, that the MAG would have turned first to their own policing organization, the Ontario Provincial Police.
The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General declared during a preliminary motion that it acts as Justice Shaughnessy’s personal lawyer, and not for the people of Ontario in this case. This again raises extensive ethical and legal questions if the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General ordered the Durham Regional Police to conduct an investigation where the results could potentially be used in support of Justice Shaughnessy or to potentially impact the Judicial Review, the complainant or his lawyer in any manner.
Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy
If Justice Shaughnessy, upon learning of the Judicial Review of the Canadian Judicial Council’s decision regarding a complaint of misconduct against himself, ordered or caused the Durham Regional Police to investigate the Judicial Review, the complaint, the complainant or his lawyer – is this an abuse of position, against any law or established ethics, guidelines or conflict of interest rules for judges?
I would be very interested in hearing from legal scholars as to the boundaries of proper behaviour for a judge, the CJC, the MAG and AGC in this case where it is proven that the Durham Regional Police conducted a major investigation concerning a judicial review.
About the only thing that we know for sure is that the Durham Regional Police secretly conducted a major investigation shortly after lawyer Paul Slansky filed an Application for a Judicial Review of a Canadian Judicial Council decision about a complaint of misconduct against Justice Shaughnessy.
As to who ordered the investigation and its purpose, the police know – but they aren’t talking.
Paul Slansky’s letter and Chief Martin’s reply
June 15, 2016 Slansky letter to Chief Martin (PDF 379kb)
June 30, 2016 Durham Regional Police response letter (PDF 140kb)
Donald Best’s Complaint of Misconduct against Justice J. Bryan Shaughnessy
Previous Unofficial Police Investigations
*In 2009 a Durham Regional Police officer conducted an unauthorized and probably illegal ‘on the side’ investigation of Donald Best, apparently to assist defendants in a civil case where Best’s corporation was the plaintiff.
‘Hide My Ass’ logo courtesy of Privax Ltd. / HideMyAss.com
Durham Regional Police logo & Chief Paul Martin released to the public domain in unrestricted DRPS Annual Report.
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. The photo has been included to put context to the article. It’s use is the same as many Canadian news outlets that continue to publish photos of many Superior Court Justices who were or are under investigation by the CJC and other authorities.
Norman Sabourin, CJC Executive Director photo courtesy of The Lawyers Weekly