Hamilton Councillor Sam Merulla embraces police investigation of Mafia connections – with custom Godfather logo

Hamilton Councillor jokes about leaked police investigation – but offers no explanation to citizens.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

When DonaldBest.CA re-published leaked police documents showing Hamilton politician Sam Merulla under investigation for apparent association with notorious ‘Ndrangheta Mafia members Antonio Agresta and brothers Angelo and Pat Musitano – Merulla responded by blocking your writer Donald Best from reading his Twitter feed.

Now the newly re-elected council member’s Twitter profile @SamMerulla shows him wearing a custom Godfather-style logo ‘The Councillor’ in an apparent attempt to defuse the issue through humour and mocking.

Left unsaid by Merulla is any real reply or explanation to the concern that an elected official appears as a subject in a long term investigation into organized crime. ‘Project SCOPA’ also revealed corrupt Hamilton cops in the pay of the mob.

Nothing from Sam Merulla – and very surprising during the recent municipal election – not one word about the police investigation into Merulla from the Hamilton Spectator, the Toronto Star or any other local news media. 

Whether due to ‘libel chill’ or the corrupt influence of organized crime, the result is the same: the mainstream news media failed in its duty to the public and to the public trust.

Hamilton politician Sam Merulla blocked Donald Best on Twitter

Hamilton Citizens deserve the Truth from Merulla and the Police

In 2016, the Toronto Star reported on a lawsuit by undercover officer Paul Manning – who alleges he was betrayed by the Hamilton Police Service and by corrupt police officers working for the Mafia.

Then about a year ago Oakville-based private investigator Derrick Snowdy published confidential police reports into organized crime showing connections between Hamilton mobsters, corrupt cops and several politicians – including Councillor Sam Merulla and former Hamilton Police Board Chair Bernie Morelli. (Morelli passed at 70 years old in 2014 after a long illness.)

In late 2017 I published two articles:

Leaked police report: Hamilton City Councillor Sam Merulla & former Police Board Chair linked with organized crime, ‘Ndrangheta mafia

Domenic Violi arrest a reminder that Organized Crime has penetrated Canadian police for decades

On November 15, 2017 the Toronto Star published a teaser about the Derrick Snowdy material – but only mentioned mob figures and corrupt cops. Again, the mainstream news media lacked the courage and integrity to report the full story, including that Sam Merulla was a target / subject of a major police investigation into the Hamilton mob.

Is it any wonder that Canadians no longer trust the mainstream news media as they once did?

‘The Councillor’ Sam Merulla wouldn’t be wearing a mocking Godfather shirt if the Hamilton and Toronto mainstream news media was doing its job.

Hamilton Councillor Sam Merulla and Musitano brothers (montage from original document below)

Notice to readers, including Persons and Entities mentoned in this article

As always, if anyone disagrees with anything published at DonaldBest.CA or wishes to provide a public response or comment, please contact me at info@donaldbest.ca and I will publish your writing with equal prominence. Comments left on articles are moderated at least once a day. Or, of course, you can sue me and serve my lawyer Paul Slansky. You can find Mr. Slansky’s information here.

Photos have been included to put context to the article. Their use is the same as with other Canadian news outlets.

Readers are also encouraged to thoroughly study all the evidence available here at DonaldBest.CA, to perform independent research on the Internet and elsewhere, to consider all sides and to make up their own minds as to the events reported on DonaldBest.CA.

Donald Best
Barrie, Ontario, Canada

 

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.

Retired Ontario Provincial Police Inspector Bill Van Allen publicly attacks Julian Fantino for exposing brother’s corruption

Donald Best highly recommends Bill Van Allen’s Criminal Investigation textbook.

Corrupt cop’s brother attacks Fantino in National Post.

I like and respect retired OPP Inspector Bill Van Allen although I’ve never met him. We do seem to have a difference of opinion about his brother, former OPP Detective Sergeant Jim Van Allen. Since Bill has publicly jumped into the discussion by launching Ad hominem attacks against former OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino and yours truly in the National Post, I’ll pick up gauntlet here and lead Bill through the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence that proves corrupt and illegal acts by his brother Jim.

(Interesting that Bill Van Allen’s National Post comment doesn’t mention that he has skin in the game as his brother is the retired OPP officer whose criminal misconduct Fantino condemns in his affidavit. Also interesting is that Bill Van Allen does not (because he cannot) argue against the evidence that shows his brother committed corrupt acts. Bill can only question Fantino’s motives and call me ‘delusional’ – the very essence of an Ad hominem attack.)

Bill publicly attacked former Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police Julian Fantino for filing a sworn affidavit that includes evidence that Bill’s brother Jim Van Allen – also a retired OPP officer – committed provincial, federal and criminal offences while he was a Detective Sergeant in charge of the OPP’s elite Criminal Profiling Unit.

In this case, Bill’s affection and loyalty to his brother has caused him to ignore the overwhelming evidence and to publicly attack a fellow (former) police officer for breaking the silence, the Omertà, of the police brotherhood by exposing corruption in the ranks.

I wish I could say that this was the first time I have seen a police officer attack another police officer for exposing corruption, but sadly it is all too common.

In the mid-1980s when it became known that my Toronto Police colleagues and I had successfully infiltrated a corrupt downtown squad and were starting to arrest police officers, we couldn’t park our personal cars anywhere near the station. Calls in the middle of the night to our families, locker room threats and bullying by senior officers was the collective response to our anti-corruption investigation. My squad soon had to move from downtown to a secret office that wasn’t even at a police facility.

The most difficult part of any anti-corruption investigation is not the work itself, but the attacks that always follow as various cabals try to save valued friends and family members from prosecution and disgrace.

Retired OPP officers Jim Van Allen (left) and brother Bill Van Allen

The Evidence against Jim Van Allen

It’s unfortunate that Bill’s brother Jim created his situation by corruptly taking a few thousand dollars ‘on the side’ from lawyers who wanted access to the confidential police information that Jim Van Allen illegally provided.

You can understand how a man would want to defend his brother – but if Bill Van Allen is truly In Search of the Truth, he might want to start by looking at the invoices that his brother issued to the lawyers who hired him.

That’s right – Jim Van Allen issued at least two invoices to Fasken law firm and lawyer Gerald L. Ranking that detail his corrupt employment as an unlicensed private investigator. (October 24, 2009 and November 7, 2009)

Bill might also want to look at Jim Van Allen’s October 21, 2009 affidavit wherein Jim illegally details my drivers licence number and address history and confirms that he received my confidential Toronto Police employment record. And yes, Jim swore his affidavit on a Wednesday, his normal workday as manager of the OPP’s Criminal Profiling Unit. Very profitable for Jim Van Allen to double-dip – get paid for being on duty and get paid for doing private work on the side while on duty. Very profitable indeed.

Bill Van Allen launched Ad hominem attacks against Julian Fantino and Donald Best in the National Post, but cannot argue against the overwhelming quantity and quality of evidence detailed in Julian Fantino’s affidavit.

Readers can view a summary of Fantino’s affidavit here.

Full copies of Julian Fantino’s affidavit are available below.

What Julian Fantino’s Affidavit says about Corrupt Cop Jim Van Allen

  • “The prosecuting lawyers hired and submitted an affidavit from Mr. Van Allen. They claimed that he was a private investigator and failed to disclose that he was a serving police officer with access to police resources. This police officer obtained confidential information not available to the public which was then used by the Judge to convict, sentence and imprison Mr. Best for contempt.”
  • “Although the lawyers regularly referred to Van Allen as a ‘private investigator’ in their legal documents and on the court record in verbal submissions and discussions with the Judge, Jim Van Allen was not a licensed private investigator. James ‘Jim’ Arthur Van Allen, was in fact a serving Ontario Provincial Police Detective Sergeant and manager of the OPP’s Criminal Profiling Unit who was working secretly and illegally as an unlicensed private investigator.”
  • “From my examination of the evidence that is already filed in court and was easily available to the courts and the CJC had they examined it, it is reasonable to conclude that OPP Detective Sergeant Jim Van Allen’s inappropriate employment as a private investigator, his access to confidential information and the distribution of the same, and the very creation of his affidavit in order to benefit private parties in a civil lawsuit, represents a flagrant violation of various Provincial and Federal laws including the Police Services Act, the Private Security and Investigative Services Act, the Criminal Code and the Freedom of Information Act.”
  • “In no small way, Detective Sergeant Jim Van Allen violated his oath of office.”
  • “Detective Sergeant Van Allen’s conduct and behavior in relation to this case occurred while I was OPP Commissioner. Had I known about it at the time, I would have immediately ordered an investigation to gather all evidence to determine the details, extent and duration of his activities with a view to possible provincial and/or criminal charges against Van Allen and, potentially, charges against other involved persons.”
  • “It is inconceivable that all the involved lawyers and Judge were unaware that ‘private investigator’ and expert witness Jim Van Allen was an OPP police officer. Considering many factors, including Detective Sergeant Van Allen’s high public profile, the rules and normal vetting practices by lawyers and judges concerning Expert Witnesses, and the fact that Van Allen’s affidavit and redacted invoices were clearly suspect on their face to any ordinary person let alone lawyers and judges, it is unbelievable that nobody in that courtroom knew the truth about Van Allen or otherwise cared to find out.”
  • “I notice that Van Allen’s two redacted invoices are numbers 11 and 12 for the year 2009, which to me raises serious questions about how many other illegal investigations he had performed and which lawyer clients might have retained him previously. Had I known of his transgressions, I would have acted immediately as OPP Commissioner to deal with his rogue conduct.”

Julian Fantino affidavit & exhibits

In .PDF format for downloading. Size indicated.

1/ Affidavit of Julian Fantino sworn September 28, 2017, Notice of Motion, Written Submissions NO EXHIBITS (72 pages – PDF 8.7mb)

2/ Julian Fantino: Full affidavit including exhibits.

Fantino Vol1 with exhibits sworn Sept 28, 2017 (344 pages – PDF 43mb) – very large, will fix soon.

Fantino Vol2 with exhibits sworn Sept 28, 2017 (245 pages – PDF 22.3mb) – very large, will fix soon.

Bill Van Allen’s book, Criminal Investigation: In Search of the Truth

Bill Van Allen’s book ‘Criminal Investigation: In Search of the Truth‘ is an excellent textbook for new and aspiring law enforcement officers. The book is widely used in Canadian college policing courses and is even popular with experienced police officers. A friend gave me a copy of the second edition for Christmas back in 2010. I’ve read it cover to cover twice and strongly recommend it to all serving police officers and private investigators no matter what their background or training. Yup… that’s me at the top of this article reading Bill’s textbook.

Notice to readers, including Persons and Entities mentoned in articles

As always, if anyone disagrees with anything published at DonaldBest.CA or wishes to provide a public response or comment, please contact me at info@donaldbest.ca and I will publish your writing with equal prominence. Comments left on articles are moderated about once a day. Or, of course, you can sue me and serve my lawyer Paul Slansky. You can find Mr. Slansky’s information here.

Photos have been included to put context to the article. Their use is the same as with other Canadian news outlets.

Readers are also encouraged to thoroughly study all the evidence available here at DonaldBest.CA, to perform independent research on the Internet and elsewhere, to consider all sides and to make up their own minds as to the events reported on DonaldBest.CA.

Donald Best
Barrie, Ontario, Canada

When will judges speak out against perjury? Don’t make me laugh!

“Sometimes the truth just doesn’t matter to the courts when high status persons are in jeopardy.”

Georgialee Lang

I was happy to discover Lawdiva’s Blog by Vancouver lawyer Georgialee Lang – who posts some excellent articles about the legal system and treads where many others fear to go.

She also writes marvellous headlines such as “Judge Presides Over Child Support Hearing While Conducting an Affair with Litigant”.

Recently Georgialee asked When Will Our Judges Speak Out Forcefully Against Perjury?

I left this comment on her article:

Hello Ms. Lang,

I’ve enjoyed a few of your articles today after stumbling across your website a few clicks ago. (Can’t even remember where or how I got here – the wonders of the internet.)

In my 40 years in and around the court as a police detective and as a private investigator, I concur that there has always been a great reluctance to prosecute people for perjury. Even if the evidence is overwhelming and irrefutable with no reasonable doubt, perjury charges just never seem to follow.

In my own case before the Ontario Superior Court, even a forensically proven and secretly made voice recording that conclusively proved perjury wasn’t enough. Indeed, no court ever agreed to listen to the recording lest the judge would then have to find perjury and conspiracy against three witnesses.

And the three witnesses who perjured themselves just happened to be… lawyers.

Sometimes the truth just doesn’t matter to the courts when high status persons are in jeopardy.

The Sebastien Kwidzinski story: How senior partners taught a young articling lawyer to fabricate evidence and lie to the court.

Donald Best

 

Ontario’s Law Society normalizing convicted pedophiles as lawyers

A Law Society Tribunal has once again approved a convicted and jailed pedophile to practice law in Ontario. Not only that, the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) supported the pedophile’s application during the tribunal hearing, agreeing that he meets the ‘good character’ standard for licensing. (Tribunal’s decision is here 425kb pdf)

With this latest in a series of similar approvals, it is apparent that the licensing of pedophiles and other convicted criminals as lawyers is, effectively, LSUC policy. Has the law society turned down any pedophile yet? I haven’t been able to find such a case in the archives.

Lawyer had child-sex videos showing 5-year-olds

Pedophile lawyer Ronald Davidovic

This time the pedophile applicant was Canadian-born Ronald Ori Davidovic – who was a Florida lawyer in 2004 when he was arrested and convicted for possessing and viewing thousands of child-sex videos and photos where the victims were as young as five years old.

That’s right – Davidovic is excited by five-year-old children. For years while he was a Florida lawyer, he collected child sex videos showing pre-pubescent children being abused in sexual acts.

Sentenced to five years in prison, and released after three, Davidovic is permanently registered as a sex offender the United States, but now wants to practice law in Ontario.

The Law Society of Upper Canada just declared convicted pedophile Ronald Davidovic to be ‘of good character’ and gave him the approval and support he needs to be licensed – this despite a medical diagnosis that his risk of re-offending is as high as 8.4%. The phrase ‘compulsive magnetic attraction to child pornography’ appears in Davidovic’s medical record.

Pedophile lawyer John David Coon

Will the law society pay damages when a known compulsive pedophile attacks a child while serving in his capacity as a lawyer? It happened before when the law society licensed known pedophile John David Coon, who again attacked a child while performing his duties as a lawyer.

Not having learned its lesson, the Law Society continues to license other pedophile lawyers (see Martin Schultz) with little regard for the public safety or the reputation of the legal profession.

This time, Chair Raj Anand and member Jan Richardson crafted the tribunal’s decision. LSUC prosecutor Amanda Worley also supported the applicant Davidovic.

The one dissenting voice against the pro-pedophile lobby was Tribunal member and criminal defense lawyer Paul M. Cooper.

The backgrounds of the individual tribunal members make for an interesting study.     Read more

Does Canada’s justice system hold any hope for common citizens?

A reader asks: With so many elements of Canada’s legal infrastructures failing its citizens, do you think there is hope for any real recourse for common citizens?

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Dear ‘S’,

Thank you for your kind and supportive email.

At the moment there is no real access to justice for ordinary Canadians. It can be fairly said that never before in Canadian history have the people and the justice system been so far apart.

It could also be fairly said that the elites who crafted and run the system – both the lawyers and ex-lawyers now known as ‘judges’ – are completely divorced from the people.

The only question is what form the rebellion will take when it comes.

Increasingly I see a section of the population completely dismissing the justice system as irrelevant in any decision making process where they believe they have been wronged. There is also a realization that we have a class-based justice system where rule of law is scarcely remembered by the courts and not at all by the legal profession.

This is producing a dangerous undermining of the very foundations of Canadian society – and if not stopped will produce a society like many around the world, where the justice system is known as nothing but a corrupt and owned weapon of the upper-class elites.

When the Toronto Star can report without contradiction that the Law Society of Upper Canada covered up hundreds of cases where Ontario lawyers committed criminal offenses against their clients, little more need be said.

Yours truly,

Donald Best

Ontario lawyer despairs that the legal profession places Privilege over Public Interest

Julie Macfarlane, National Self-Represented Litigants Project

Julie Macfarlane, National Self-Represented Litigants Project

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

As usual, Julie Macfarlane doesn’t hesitate to speak the truths that many in the legal profession find so difficult to acknowledge in public, or even admit to themselves.

Her latest piece is superb and well worth your time, especially if you are a lawyer or a judge. The article should be required reading in every law school in the country.

For me, the one issue in Julie’s article that stands out above everything is how the legal profession, including the Law Society of Upper Canada, usually places privilege over public interest. Lawyers and former lawyers (called ‘judges’) most often choose to protect their own even at the expense of the public interest and the public trust.

Notwithstanding that the vast majority of lawyers and judges are hard-working, ethical, and decent people, the current culture of the legal profession punishes members who dare to report or even acknowledge specific professional misconduct by other lawyers. The standard in the profession is that it is permissible to talk about ethics and misconduct generally, but woe unto the lawyer or judge who points a finger. In many ways this is very similar to the protectionist culture found in policing organizations.

Those in the legal profession who won’t circle the wagons and stand with ‘the Club’ soon find themselves standing alone, with no referrals and few lunch invitations at best. At worst, they are squeezed out of their firms, find their careers diminished and themselves under attack.

As Julie Macfarlane says,

“It’s not the people in the legal profession who are the problem.

It’s what the profession has become.”

Julie Macfarlane: Why I Sometimes feel Despair about the Profession I Love

Canadians are well aware of what the legal profession has become, just as they are well aware of the legal profession’s pretensions of public interest. Ordinary Canadians get it – they just lack the power and capability to do anything about a profession that is entirely self-regulating and accountable only unto itself.   Read more

Advice for self-represented litigants, Part 3: LSUC Bencher Joseph Groia “Lawyer-bullies prey on the weak and inexperienced”

Lawyers Gerry Ranking and Lorne Silver-private

Lawyers Gerald Ranking (left) & Lorne Silver. Strategies for cross-examination of self-represented litigant included screaming, yelling foul words and throwing objects at the witness. (as indicated in transcripts of cross-examination with the Judge not present. The lawyers later apologized to the court, but not to the self-represented litigant.)

The Legal Profession’s culture of bullying

Law Society of Upper Canada bencher Joseph Groia and BC lawyer Gerry Laarakker are two of the high profile people weighing in with comments on law professor Adam Dodek’s excellent article: Ending Bullying in the Legal Profession.

In January 2012, the Law Society of British Columbia found Laarakker guilty of misconduct for not being polite to a bullying Ontario lawyer. Laarakker had to pay $4,500 in fines and costs. The Ontario lawyer-bully walked free because the legal profession has a culture of bullying that law societies tolerate and even support through attacks on lawyers who stand against the practice.

According to lawyer Katarina Germani of Clyde & Co. LLP in Toronto, “(lawyer-bully) behaviour is so often normalized by the profession.”

And as Chris Budgell comments, bullying by lawyers is a problem in the courts, not just within law firms.

Self-represented litigants need to be aware of lawyer-bullies

There is a sometimes difficult to define line between a lawyer diligently representing their client – and engaging in bullying. Although there are contrary opinions I’m sure, I believe that most judges and most lawyers dealing with self-represented litigants try to be fair – if for no other reason than to avoid appeals and complaints.

But, as LSUC bencher Joseph Groia points out, some lawyers are bullies who attempt to prey on the weak and inexperienced. That description certainly includes self-represented litigants.

In my own case, during a January 2013, cross-examination where the judge was not present, senior counsel Lorne S. Silver of Cassels Brock & Blackwell yelled, screamed foul language at the top of his voice and threw objects at me. All this is supported in the transcripts. Co-counsel Gerald Ranking of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP later apologized to the court (but not to me), for the disgusting behaviour, of which Mr. Ranking played his own part during the same cross-examination.  Read more

From St. Matthew to Brad Pitt: The Ethics and Regulation of Expert Witnesses

 

Professor Adam Dodek Allard Law-private

The J. Donald Mawhinney Lecturship in Professional Ethics

Speaker: Associate Professor Adam Dodek

Lecture: “From St. Matthew to Brad Pitt: The Ethics and Regulation of Expert Witnesses”

Thursday, March 17, 2016 – 5pm to 6pm (lecture) – 6pm to 7pm (reception)

Four Seasons Hotel (Vancouver), Arbutus Room

RSVP by email or phone (604.822.5018)
The deadline to RSVP is March 15, 2016

This event qualifies for 1.0 CPD credit

About the lecture:

In recent years, many concerns have been raised about the role and the regulation of expert witnesses. Many of these concerns are not new. Critics have been questioning the ability of expert witnesses to be independent since at least the 19th century. This lecture will examine the ethical expectations of expert witnesses and evaluate how the justice system attempts to regulate their ethical conduct. It concludes that not only is the current approach to the regulation of expert witnesses insufficient, it is fundamentally flawed. A new paradigm is needed for the regulation of expert witnesses, one which imposes obligations on all actors in the justice system: lawyers, judges as well as experts.

In recent years, many concerns have been raised about the role and the regulation of expert witnesses. Many of these concerns are not new. Critics have been questioning the ability of expert witnesses to be independent since at least the 19th century. This lecture will examine the ethical expectations of expert witnesses and evaluate how the justice system attempts to regulate their ethical conduct. It concludes that not only is the current approach to the regulation of expert witnesses insufficient, it is fundamentally flawed. A new paradigm is needed for the regulation of expert witnesses, one which imposes obligations on all actors in the justice system: lawyers, judges as well as experts.

About the speaker:

Adam Dodek is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. He is a graduate of McGill, Harvard Law School and the University of Toronto and a member of the bars of Ontario and California. He has clerked for the Supreme Courts of Canada and Israel and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is a founder of the Canadian Association of Legal Ethics (CALE) and was named by Canadian Lawyer in 2014 as one of Canada’s Most Influential Lawyers. In 2015, the Law Society of Upper Canada awarded him its Law Society Medal.

Adam Dodek is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. He is a graduate of McGill, Harvard Law School and the University of Toronto and a member of the bars of Ontario and California. He has clerked for the Supreme Courts of Canada and Israel and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is a founder of the Canadian Association of Legal Ethics (CALE) and was named by Canadian Lawyer in 2014 as one of Canada’s Most Influential Lawyers. In 2015, the Law Society of Upper Canada awarded him its Law Society Medal.

When big law firm lawyers won’t say ‘No’ to unethical demands from major clients

Canadian Bar Association’s Ethics Forum underlines why ordinary citizens should involve themselves in the discussion. Legal Ethics are too important to be left to the legal profession alone.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

In life and in legal practice, sometimes making an ethical decision is simple, even easy. Other times, doing the right thing, no matter how carefully considered, seems to be an impossiblity given all the circumstances.

In any profession the laws, practices, technologies and societal expectations are constantly changing in ways that make new difficulties for anyone trying to behave ethically. While I’m sure that plumbers and ceramic tile installers have their ethical concerns and codes of conduct, I think you’ll agree with me that along with medicine, the practice of law is probably one of the most difficult professions when it comes to the challenge of behaving ethically.

The Canadian Bar Association’s Ethics Forum is coming up on March 7, 2016. I won’t be attending but I just might next year after my book is published, because the one thing that seems to be missing at these conferences is the perspective from outside of the legal communities.

While some lawyers may not appreciate independent civilian involvement and oversight of the legal profession, virtually all ordinary Canadians I’ve spoken with agree that laws and the practice of law are far too important and foundational to our society to be left to lawyers alone.

The list of speakers and moderators at this year’s Ethics Forum includes many of the ‘Who’s Who’ leaders in the area of legal ethics. Malcolm Mercer (McCarthy Tetrault LLP) and Alice Woolley (University of Calgary) are the co-chairs. Dr. Steven Vaughan (University of Birmingham) will deliver the keynote speech.

Other panelists and moderators include:

  • Brent Cotter, University of Saskatchewan
  • Elaine Craig, Schulich School of Law
  • Adam Dodek, University of Ottawa
  • Allan Fineblit, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP
  • Charles Gluckstein, Gluckstein Personal Injury Lawyers
  • Stephen Goudge, Paliare Roland LLP
  • Julia Holland, Torys LLP
  • Gavin Hume, Harris & Co
  • Jasminka Kalajdzic, Windsor Law School
  • Darrel Pink, Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
  • Stephen Pitel, Western University
  • Amy Salyzyn, University of Ottawa
  • Noel Semple, Windsor Law School

Although I won’t be attending this year, I do have an ethical question for the panels to consider, especially in light of the topic of Dr. Vaughan’s keynote address about the too-cosy relationships between large law firms and some major clients:

Example Situation: A Large Law Firm lawyer acts unethically. Should the law firm refund the client’s payments for ‘work done’?

And just to make it interesting for the discussion panels at the Ethics Forum, the following example is real, and involves one of the law firms (but not the lawyers) participating on the panels:    Read more

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