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:   Read more

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