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

Sebastien Kwidzinski & senior partners Gerald Ranking, Lorne Silver

Sebastien Kwidzinski & senior partners Gerald Ranking, Lorne Silver*

by Donald Best

by Donald Best

When Sebastien Kwidzinski arrived for work on the morning of November 17, 2009 he had no idea that by the end of the day circumstances would require him to make an ethical and legal decision; either reveal that he witnessed senior lawyers fabricating evidence and lying on the court record, or keep silent and become part of a group of Bay Street lawyers deceiving a judge with false evidence and lies.

What was a young articling student to do?

Think of the pressure to follow the lead of a senior partner who bragged of earning over a million dollars income a year. Tell the truth and you’re out; never to have a chance at a coveted Bay Street partnership. Keep the code of silence, support the team and you’re assured of achieving everything a young law student could want; an opportunity to be part of one of the most powerful legal cabals in Canada.

In Fall of 2009 Sebastien Kwidzinski was a 26-year-old fresh-faced kid working for Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP senior partner Gerald Ranking. Kwidzinski had always done well academically, graduating in 2002 at the top of his class from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario. Recounting how York University sent a team to his home with a scholarship offer, Kwidzinski told the Toronto Star in 2006 that he “followed the money” and went into the law program at York U.

While at university Sebastien Kwidzinski was active in various student associations and in 2008 took a summer job with Faskens, where he was seconded to the Ontario Securities Commission. At 25 years old he was on his way to a law career with one of Canada’s largest and most respected legal firms.

As Kwidzinski excitedly headed off to his first day of work to “follow the money” with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, I wonder if he had ever read the words published by now Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals, Robert A Katzmann:

“As large firms have grown and multiplied, despondency about the decline of law practice from its virtuous and collegial past has intensified. Within the legal profession itself, many share the sense that law has freshly descended from a noble profession infused with civic virtue to a commercial pursuit. In the most erudite and theoretically sophisticated account of decline, the dean of the Yale Law School counsels idealistic young lawyers to stay clear of large firms, because they have a “harshly economizing spirit” and “increasingly commercial culture”.

The Law Firm and the Public Good, Robert A. Katzmann, page 40 (See ‘Some Canadian lawyers are too big to jail‘.)

Kwidzinski arrested for ‘Youthful Stupid Stunt’

But then came an incident that the Toronto Police later characterized as a youthful “stupid stunt”. On November 8, 2008 Sebastien Kwidzinski, age 25, was arrested along with two other York students and charged with false message, common nuisance and mischief interfering with property after a brown paper bag reading “I AM A BOMB” was left on a bus parked at York University. This happened two days into a strike by professors and teaching assistants of CUPE 3903. Thousands of people were evacuated from the area before the bomb squad declared the ‘bomb’ to be a hoax.  

A month later the charges against Kwidzinski and one other student were dropped at the request of the Crown. When contacted by a news reporter, the police officer in charge of the case was unaware that the charges had been dropped or why.

Contrast of 25-year olds: Donald Best and Sebastien Kwidzinski

Harry Snedden (left), Paul Gosling - Two lost friends

Two absent friends: Harry Snedden (left), Paul Gosling

I can’t help but contrast my own life at 25 years old with Sebastien Kwidzinski at the same age. Far from engaging in ‘youthful stupid stunts’, at 25 years old I had been a Toronto Police Constable for four years, was married with one child and had another on the way. I had a mortgage and drove a used Ford Pinto station wagon. At 25 years old I had already attended the funerals of five police officers including two friends, Paul ‘Duck’ Gosling and Harry Snedden. Paul died in a police motorcycle accident in 1976. Harry died in 1978, thirty-seven years ago, but I remember the day vividly.

On September 15, 1978 my fellow officers and I did our best to save Harry after a suspect grabbed his revolver and shot him in the heart. Harry’s partner Donald Chadbolt fought with courage and strength to save him, but to no avail. He almost lost his own life when the suspect took his revolver too. In those days, the politicians didn’t want to spend $45 per officer for snatch-resistant holsters.

We drove like madmen to get to the scene, but sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. Everybody knew that Harry was dead as we loaded him into the ambulance, but we hurried anyway. Harry was 22 years old. Paul Gosling was 27.

Oak Ridges OPP officer Paul Patterson was 22. Ottawa Constable David Kirkwood was 21 when a suspect shot him in the head. Collingwood Police Sergeant Ron McKean was dead before he hit the ground after taking a shotgun blast point blank in the chest. Mike Sweet was shot and held hostage until he bled out. Percival Cummins was shot in the neck with his own revolver. Dave Dunmore was shot in the back. Hugh Lynn died on the Don Valley Parkway.

I attended each funeral along with thousands of my colleagues.

Unlike Sebastien Kwidzinski, at 25 years old I had no time for ‘student pranks’.

Kwidzinski decides to cover-up evidence fabrication, perjury by senior lawyers

On November 17, 2009, Sebastien Kwidzinski was supposed to be cross-examined at Victory Verbatim court reporting in Toronto, Ontario along with ‘private investigator’ James (Jim) Van Allen in a civil lawsuit costs hearing. My company, Nelson Barbados Group Ltd., was the plaintiff in the case.

Sebastien Kwidzinski, Faskens senior partner Gerald Ranking and Cassels Brock & Blackwell senior partner Lorne Silver were well aware that Ranking had hired ‘private investigator’ Van Allen and that Van Allen’s affidavit as distributed to the public contained my full name, date of birth, driver’s licence number and Ministry of Transport address history since I was seventeen.

Kwidzinski also knew that his own affidavit sworn October 27, 2009 and distributed to the public contained my Ministry of Transport drivers license record, address, driver’s license number and my medical records held by the MTO.

Kwidzinski and Van Allen refused to be cross-examined on November 17, 2009, which in hindsight is no wonder considering that, unknown to the court or me, Van Allen was at the time a serving Ontario Provincial Police Detective Sergeant, illegally taking money ‘on the side’ from Gerald Ranking and Faskens. Van Allen’s employment by Ranking, Kwidzinski and Faskens violated various federal and provincial laws, including the Police Services Act, the Private Security and Investigative Services Act and the Criminal Code. (Not that the Law Society of Upper Canada or the Ontario legal profession care about that.)

Ranking, Kwidzinski and Van Allen concealed from Justice Shaughnessy that ‘private investigator’ Jim Van Allen was a serving police officer, unlicensed as a private investigator and was corruptly and illegally taking money to provide police expertise and resources to one side of a civil lawsuit.

The February 14, 2014 Motion with the affidavit of honest Toronto lawyer Che Claire details the violations of the law. Large file offered in 3 parts:

Secret Voice Recording proves the lawyers’ lies

On November 17, 2009 I was in the South Pacific when I called Ranking, Silver, Kwidzinski and other lawyers at Victory Verbatim in Toronto and offered to be examined via telephone. I had learned of the court-ordered examination just the day before when I phoned the court to inquire about a costs decision. I was on the other side of the world and had not received any court order but was willing to be questioned anyway. As the defendants represented by Ranking and Silver had sued my company’s lawyer for costs personally in a tactical move to deprive me of legal counsel, neither my company nor I had a lawyer.

I secretly, but legally, recorded the telephone call with the lawyers as I didn’t trust them. That was a wise decision on my part.

The voice recording and the transcript are certified by forensic experts and prove that Ranking, Silver and Kwidzinski deliberately lied to the court and also to me during the call. You can listen to the recording and compare it to the lies the lawyers told the court both in writing and orally here: Donald Best secretly (and legally) recorded call with lawyers Gerald Ranking, Lorne Silver 

During the call Silver lied to me, saying he had “no idea” who hired the private investigator or who released my drivers license, date of birth, Ministry of Transport address history and other private information to the public.

Kwidzinski heard Silver’s lie, knew it was a lie and kept silent then and later with the court.

Kwidzinski also heard Silver intimidate my family and me. Silver said that he didn’t care that people were committing criminal offenses against my children and identity theft against me due to the public distribution of my private information. He chuckled during the conversation and said he wouldn’t help me even if he could. The recording and forensic transcript of the conversation prove this.

Kwidzinski knew that Silver was way over the line, but he kept silent during the teleconference and before the court.

Kwidzinski heard me state over a dozen times during the call that I had not received a copy of the court order and had not received a courier package with the order purportedly sent to me on November 6, 2009 by Ranking. Kwidzinski heard me ask Ranking and Silver to send me a copy of the court order because I didn’t have the order.

After the lawyers refused to allow me to be questioned over the telephone and ended the call despite my protest, they withdrew to another room and with a court reporter created an official ‘Statement for the Record’ that contained outright lies about what I had said during the telephone call. They didn’t realize that I had recorded the call so they lied as they created the official court record.

Kwidzinski kept silent as Ranking and Silver fabricated false evidence in the ‘Statement for the Record’ and falsely swore to the court that I told them during the phone call that I had received a copy of the Court Order dated November 2, 2009.

Kwidzinski knew that the ‘Statement for the Record’ contained lies that Ranking and Silver intended to use as evidence to convict me of contempt of court.

Kwidzinski’s Choice

At that moment on November 17, 2009, Sebastien Kwidzinski made his choice: he would remain silent after witnessing senior partners fabricating false evidence that he knew was to be placed before the court. That false evidence was used by Justice Shaughnessy in January 2010 to convict me of contempt of court during a trial in absentia where I was not present and did not know that the trial was happening.

Kwidzinski knew that the judge had sentenced me to three months in prison based upon this false evidence, yet he remained silent.

Sebastien Kwidzinski did not tell the court about Ranking and Silver fabricating evidence and lying to the court. He made no report to the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Five Years Later The Dream Ends: No Big Law Partnership for young lawyer

Kwidzinski earlier told the Toronto Star that he intended to “follow the money” as a lawyer, and it certainly worked out for him for a while. In May 2010, Faskens hired Sebastien Kwidzinski as an associate. He stayed for five years but did not achieve partnership. In May 2015, Kwidzinski said goodbye to Bay Street and took a job as Legal Counsel to Foresters Insurance and Investments.

I’d like to think that Sebastien Kwidzinski left Bay Street and big law firm Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP because he finally realized the price that young lawyers eventually pay if they stay in a Big Law culture of corruption and greed. Perhaps he was unable to look the other way anymore.

Does Kwidzinski regret allowing a senior partner to lead him into deep water? Does he regret that his complicity in fabricating evidence and lying to the court sent an innocent man to jail?

If so, an apology would be a good place to start.

* Public domain photos of Sebastien Kwidzinski, Gerald Ranking and Lorne S. Silver

** Purolator later revealed that Faskens and Ranking never sent me any package on or about November 6, 2009. Ranking and his secretary Jeannine Ouellette lied to the court about this evidence that was used to convict me of Contempt of Civil Court and sentence me to three months in jail.

*** DonaldBest.CA reminds our readers that as of the publication date the allegations have yet to be proven in a court of law. Visitors are encouraged to examine the legal documents and other evidence posted here, to do independent research and to make up their own minds about the civil lawsuit known as ‘Donald Best v. Gerald Ranking et al’. (Superior Court of Justice, Central East Region: Barrie, Court File No. 14-0815)

7 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.