Donald Best receives 2018 Ontario Civil Liberties Award

Scandal, Cover-up by Federal Court of Canada Exposed.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Toronto Police

I’m surprised and deeply honoured to receive the 2018 Ontario Civil Liberties Award – announced this morning.

Today (and in my recorded acceptance speech – transcript here) I am calling upon the Law Society of Ontario and the law societies in every province to cease investigating complaints against their own members. This most serious conflict of interest undermines the profession’s credibility and the public’s trust in our legal system.

Self-investigation by the lawyers’ unions is a real conflict of interest that is unacceptable by any modern standard and cannot be resolved – except by the establishment of independent organizations in each province to receive complaints against lawyers, to perform professional unbiased investigations and to lay charges where appropriate. The retention of investigative functions by the law societies is indefensible.

Today, I also reveal details of an ongoing major scandal and active cover-up by the Courts Administration Service and the Federal Court of Canada that impacts every Canadian who has appeared before that court for any reason in the last few years.

This documented misconduct by Federal Court of Canada personnel throws into question every recent decision of the Federal Court of Canada. Dozens of lawyers and litigants have already contacted me about this revelation and I am aware of several lawsuits / legal motions that are imminent. At least one will be filed within days.

Regarding my personal legal battles, both the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (in their news media release) and University of Windsor law professor Julie Macfarlane in her introduction speech for my award – openly declare that I was unjustly convicted of contempt of court and imprisoned based upon false evidence fabricated by senior lawyers from some of Canada’s largest law firms. (Former OPP Commissioner of Police Julian Fantino said the same thing last year in a sworn affidavit and said that if he knew then what he knows now, he would have launched a criminal investigation against named Ontario Provincial Police officers and lawyers.)

To my friends and family who believed in me during the darkest times and gave me strength – thank you. This is your Ontario Civil Liberties Award as much as it is mine. To the legal profession and the courts… We want our justice system back.

Ontario Civil Liberties Association announcement…

http://ocla.ca/ocla-civil-liberties-award/

My acceptance speech…

https://youtu.be/AWUcVtnec9A

Professor Julie Macfarlane’s introduction…

https://youtu.be/trPU2uwUzOM

Donald Best Receives the 2018 OCLA Civil Liberties Award

(Ottawa, December 4, 2018) – The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) presents its 2018 Civil Liberties Award to whistleblower and anti-corruption activist Donald Best.

Donald Best is a former Sergeant (Detective) with the Toronto Police responsible for investigating Canadian police, lawyers, and politicians involved in organized crime, and a leading Canadian anti-corruption whistleblower and activist.

In his ongoing legal cases and public advocacy, Mr. Best has exposed corruption in the Canadian legal profession including secret orders and investigations by judges, the submission of false evidence in court by lawyers, and the failure of disciplinary bodies such as the Law Society of Ontario and the Canadian Judicial Council to investigate complaints against judges and lawyers.

Mr. Best’s tireless efforts to create integrity and accountability in the Canadian legal system make him an exemplary leader in the fight for equality before and under the law of all Canadians, including self-represented litigants.

Embedded at the OCLA’s award website (link HERE) is a video of Donald Best’s acceptance speech for the 2018 OCLA Civil Liberties Award, following a video introduction of Mr. Best by law professor Julie Macfarlane, Director of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project, University of Windsor.

Background Articles available online

https://donaldbest.ca/faqs-about-best-v-ranking/

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/ex-federal-cabinet-minister-julian-fantino-takes-aim-at-judge-cops-lawyers

https://business.financialpost.com/legal-post/internet-research-by-jurors-and-judges-during-cases-challenged-julius-melnitzer

https://donaldbest.ca/broadcaster-jimmy-dore-interviews-donald-best-the-lawyers-lied-to-the-court-and-as-a-result-you-were-convicted/

Dr Julie Macfarlane, NSRLP Director at Windsor Law: Donald Best’s CJC Challenge necessary

by Dr. Julie Macfarlane, National Self-Represented Litigants Project

The National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) of which I am the Director has been extremely concerned – and made this concern clear – for many years about the process for reviewing and adjudicating complaints brought against a member of the judiciary by a member of the public.

Many of the complaints brought to the CJC each year are now brought by self-represented litigants. The “mandate” of the CJC excludes most of these complaints as written.

In order to rebuild public confidence in the judicial system, a robust overhaul of the complaints process – including assistance for members of the public who wish to bring forward a complaint – is essential.

Mr Best’s judicial review claim is an example of the extraordinary lengths to which it is presently necessary to go to draw attention to this flawed system and the lack of public accountability that the CJC reflects.

Yours truly,

Dr Julie Macfarlane
Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law

(Editor’s note: Don’t forget to support the Donald Best CJC Challenge with a small donation at GoFundMe.)

More from Dr. Macfarlane…

Its out! The fully revised 2nd edition of The New Lawyer: How Clients are Transforming the Practice of Law (UBC Press).

https://www.amazon.com/New-Lawyer-Second-Transforming-Practice/dp/0774837071

Named one of Canada’s 25 Most Influential Lawyers

http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/6513/The-Top-25-Most-Influential-2017.html

For information on my research and continuing work on self-represented litigants, including my Blog on Access to Justice and the SRL Phenomenon, go to https://representingyourselfcanada.com/

Follow me on Twitter @ProfJulieMac

Our podcast Jumping Off the Ivory Tower downloadable here https://representingyourselfcanada.com/podcast/

 

Julie Macfarlane of National Self-Represented Litigants Project named to Top 25 Most Influential legal professionals in Canada

Prof. Julie Macfarlane

Congratulations to University of Windsor law professor Julie Macfarlane who is named one of Canada’s 25 Most Influential legal professionals by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.

Julie works tirelessly for for the rights of self-represented litigants and all Canadians to have access to justice – against a system that is set up and predisposed to favour those who are able to afford lawyers.

 

Representing Yourself in Court 101 – Lesson #1: Walk away if you can.

Lady Justice Cheats

Lady Justice doesn’t like Self-Represented Litigants

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

So you want justice, and you want it badly enough that you are willing to represent yourself in court – without a lawyer.

What I really want you to understand is this: walking away from court is often the best decision you can make, whether you have a lawyer or not. If you are self-represented though, walking away is almost always the best decision.

There’s a tough reality to representing yourself that you don’t know about, even if you have previous experience in court with your lawyer beside you. As a self-represented litigant, you WILL be abused by opposing lawyers. You WILL be abused by court staff and by judges.

And, like the vast majority of self-represented litigants, you will likely lose your case. You may find yourself having to pay legal costs to the other side – sometimes tens of thousands of dollars or more. Or, like me, you may end up doing several months in prison even though your case is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal charge.

You have no idea about what you are getting into, but…

Maybe you are forced to represent yourself in court. Perhaps you are being sued and the other side won’t settle. Maybe your children or your home are at stake and you can’t walk away, but you have no money to hire a lawyer.

If you must represent yourself, you have a difficult path ahead. You’ll have to work hard to learn the law, and to learn the written and unwritten rules of litigation. Don’t let your case overwhelm  what is really important in your life.

Representing Yourself in Court 101

My new video series covers some of the general information you’ll need to represent yourself in court. We’ll also look at some topics the legal community doesn’t like to talk about, such as the common dirty tricks that abusive lawyers reserve for those who don’t have a lawyer.

Lesson #1 in the series is titled ‘Walk away – if you can’.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A handful of wise Canadian Judges urge lawyers to adopt a new business product: unbundled services

How lawyers can take pressure off the courts and earn new profits from assisting self-represented litigants.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

If you have ever been involved in a lawsuit, whether personal or business, you are probably aware that for most Canadians, the cost of hiring a lawyer can easily exceed the loss or damages under dispute. In family law, it is not unheard of for the legal fees on both sides to equal the joint family assets. That is reality in our courts.

Yet, each year tens of thousands of Canadians hire lawyers in the hope that, after legal fees, they will be able to achieve some level of justice, even if greatly discounted. Harsh reality often awaits many who enter the world of paying lawyers $400 or more per hour – in a system that provides the greatest financial benefit to those lawyers who spend the most time achieving as little as possible.

I can almost hear the screams of indignant outrage from the senior benchers of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Except, I have been at social events and seen lawyers openly joke about exactly that; how the system is set up to benefit the legal profession, not ordinary Canadians. As one of the jokes goes: A good lawyer will take a year to accomplish a motion – an excellent lawyer takes much longer.

As the legal profession pushed the cost of justice out of reach of the majority of ordinary people, many Canadians are reluctantly having to represent themselves in the courts. This tsunami of self-represented litigants is overwhelming the justice system and tests the patience of many judges who find the once professional theatre of the court now more akin to an amateur hour talent show.

So the legal system is searching for solutions to the ‘problem’ of self-represented litigants. We’ve seen some good efforts that need to be continued. Chief Justice Michael MacDonald of Nova Scotia instituted an educational program for self-represented litigants. Across Canada, SRL advocacy groups and a few lawyers run workshops to assist those who are forced to represent themselves.

Unbundled Services: Quick and effective relief for the courts & opposing lawyers

What is missing though, is the willingness of mainstream lawyers and law firms to enter the business of providing legal research, legal document creation and case preparation for self-represented litigants who would happily pay for such assistance, but do not have the funds to hire a ‘full service’ lawyer to represent them in court. (‘Unbundled legal services’)

Many lawyers see the delivery of unbundled services as undermining the profession. Still others fear malpractice claims or professional insurance problems when self-represented litigants turn on the lawyer who assisted them.

Dr. Julie Macfarlane and the National Self-Represented Litigants Project continue to educate lawyers and law students about the SRL crisis – and now focus on untapped business opportunities for lawyers willing to add a new product: Unbundled Services to self-represented persons.

And, in the new NSRLP video (above) we see support for unbundled legal services from some heavy hitters including Chief Justice Robert Bauman of British Columbia, Chief Justice Michael MacDonald of Nova Scotia, and Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco of the Superior Court of Ontario.

Kudos to the Justices for their leadership, and to Dr. Macfarlane and the National Self-Represented Litigants Project for their excellent video.

Why over 100 lawyers refused to represent me, even as they acknowledged the validity of my case.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Why would no lawyer represent me? Read my latest guest column published at the National Self-Represented Litigants Project.

The Client most lawyers fear – and won’t represent at any price

9 Tips for dealing with an Abusive Lawyer: Advice for self-represented litigants, Part 4

Abusive Lawyers vs. Self-Represented Litigants

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Today, a reader told me yet another tale of an abusive lawyer and a court that refused to do anything about it. The judge advised the self-represented litigant that court involves “a certain amount of rough and tumble” and they should “get used to it.”

Indeed, that ‘rough and tumble’ against self-represented litigants can involve almost anything when courts let lawyers go over the line. And judges do let abusive lawyers get away with it – every day.

One lesson self-represented persons soon learn is that the respect and courtesy so evident between opposing lawyers, in and out of court, immediately vanishes when a non-lawyer sets foot onto the sacred turf of the legal brotherhood.

Every person who has been a self-represented litigant (SRL) in anything more than a minor civil claim or traffic court knows exactly what I am talking about. Lawyers view self-reps as ‘easy pickin’s’ because, well, we are. Self-represented persons often describe how lawyers deliberately use shows of anger, personal space invasion, belittling comments and sarcasm to intimidate and confuse, both in and out of court.

Summary Judgments as a legal strategy against Self-Represented Persons

Even worse, many lawyer-bullies use their status and credibility as officers of the court and their legal knowledge to deliberately ‘set-up’ self-represented persons in a long-term litigation strategy designed to obtain a Summary Judgment and dismiss the case before trial.

As part of their technique, these abusive lawyers deliberately overwhelm self-reps with a tsunami of emailed communications, always wait to the last minute to serve motions, and use a hundred practiced devices to bully SRLs into becoming ineffective or – much better for the lawyer – goad the SRL into foolish acts of aggression or non-compliance with required legal procedures.

Julie Macfarlane, National Self-Represented Litigants Project

Julie Macfarlane, National Self-Represented Litigants Project

In the court hallways where there is no record, some lawyers aggressively demand unrealistic procedural concessions or case schedules that are designed to place self-reps at a disadvantage. Some lawyers deliberately misrepresent these hallway conversations to the court.

Some unethical lawyers falsely claim to the court that they sent letters or even served documents via courier when it never happened. They then petition the court that the self-represented litigant is irresponsible or vexatious in not responding to the “very reasonable, courteous communications” of the lawyer. Professor Julie Macfarlane and her colleagues at the National Self-Represented Litigants Project found shocking results in their studies of Summary Judgments against self-reps.

Don’t let it happen to you.

Here are 9 Tips for dealing with an Abusive Lawyer 

1. Always remain calm. Lawyer-bullies try to provoke self-represented litigants into inappropriate behaviour and into making inappropriate statements both in and out of the courtroom, on the record and off. Don’t be driven by emotion; the lawyer-bullies aren’t, no matter how angry or threatening they sound. As Michael Corleone says in The Godfather, “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.” Know their game and be prepared.  Read more

Donald Best honoured to have work referenced by National Self-Represented Litigants Project

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

I was surprised, delighted and honoured to discover that the National Self-Represented Litigants Project’s latest publication references my article Advice for self-represented litigants, Part 1: Walking away is sometimes the best decision.

The NSRLP updated edition of ‘Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography’ is a resource for law students, researchers and SRLs themselves.

Here is an excerpt from the NSRLP’s article Updated Edition of our Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography and a link to download the Bibliography…

Updated Edition of our Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography

We are proud to announce the latest – Version 4 – edition of our Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography. Designed as a resource for students, researchers and SRLs themselves, the NSRLP Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography is now over 50 pages and includes almost 100 summaries in 3 sections (Canada, US and the rest of the world).

biblio

We are constantly pruning and adding to keep the Bibliography as current and as useful as possible (we welcome all your suggestions for items to include). We are gratified to see more academic writing being done on this topic area than when the Bibliography was first launched in 2013, as well as wider coverage in news reports, both on-line and print, for us to choose from.

Important upgrade: this latest version of the bibliography includes hyperlinks (just hover over the title) for every source that has an on-line location. We hope that this will greatly improve the usability and accessibility of this resource.

The Access to Justice Annotated Bibliography is offered as a free downloadable community resource, and we shall continue to update and revise this at regular intervals to keep it up-to-date.

Justice system rules and practices unfairly place self-represented litigants at tremendous disadvantage

courtroom-private

The deck is already stacked against self-represented litigants. Prohibiting the use of an assistant in court further ensures that self-represented litigants will lose.

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

by Donald Best, former Sergeant, Detective, Toronto Police

Self-represented litigants often face a phalanx of lawyers in court; with each lawyer having their own junior to take notes and assist with exhibits and case management during the hearing.

In contrast to the latitude and even deference extended to their fellow legal professionals, most judges prohibit self-represented litigants from having an assistant or non-lawyer advisor in court. This systemic favouritism places self-represented litigants at serious disadvantage even when arguing relatively simple cases, but is devastating in more complex cases where there might be dozens or even hundreds of documents and other exhibits in play.

In my company’s civil case (Nelson Barbados Group Ltd. vs Cox et al), the defending lawyers filed tens of thousands of pages of documents as exhibits. As a self-represented litigant during my Contempt of Court hearing, I had to appear before the court alone and attempt to make my own notes as I simultaneously hunted through boxes for reply documents and exhibits.

The opposing lawyers, Gerald Ranking and Lorne Silver, made team notes and took turns handling the exhibits as the other addressed the court. Occasionally there would also be junior lawyers taking notes. The lawyers refused me permission to make recordings, so I was left waiting sometimes weeks for transcripts before I had accurate notes of what had transpired in court or at examinations.

This type of systemic bias by the justice system and courts against self-represented persons is simply unacceptable in an age where so many citizens cannot afford legal representation. Access to Justice is a human rights issue. It’s time that the legal profession acknowledged the systemic bias against self-represented persons.

Dr. Julie Macfarlane of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project just posted an excellent article about self-represented litigants being forced to appear alone in court. Well worth your time:

The Loneliness of the Self-Represented Litigant

When her case was called, Maria (not her real name) walked towards the front table in the courtroom and, anxiously shifting her papers, asked the judge if she could have her sister sit with her during the hearing. She explained that she could not take notes and listen to what was being said at the same time, and her sister could help her by taking notes for her. Maria said that she had become so overwhelmed the last time she appeared in court that she had started to cry, and felt humiliated getting so upset in public, in front of the people watching in the courtroom. If her sister could sit beside her, it would help her to stay calm and centred.

The judge said no. You have to make your own case, or go and get a lawyer.

But my sister would not speak, she would just take notes, Maria tried to explain.

The judge told her to stop talking and sit down.

Continue reading The Loneliness of the Self-Represented Litigant