Harry follows Blight’s advice
Harry Kopyto wants an answer. He wants to know where he can challenge the independence of the Hearing Panel that is deciding if he has the good character to continue working as a paralegal. Is that a lot to ask? Not really, no. In fact, the Panel agrees that he deserves an answer. It agrees he should get someone to hear his objection. But not us, they tell him. Why? Because they just can’t handle his challenge to its authority. Oh yes, they agree that they are “implicated” in his argument that they function as part of a constitutionally flawed regulatory scheme. But they also say that they are not “institutionally competent” to hear his motion. How come? They’re smart people. After all, they know the ropes. Blight even advises major corporations and the Ontario government. Anyway, they recommend he take his issue to the courts. And Harry, who is an agreeable fellow by nature, is following their advice.
Basically, Harry has asked Blight to disqualify the Panel. He argues that the Panel is not legitimate. It is not independent. It was appointed by lawyers. Lawyers have a conflict with the Law Society’s mandate to serve the public interest. Paralegals used to do much of the same work lawyers do. And cheaper. So lawyers took control of paralegals. They carved out the most lucrative work paralegals were previously allowed to do exclusively for themselves. They barred paralegals from doing everything else. The Law Society is run by lawyers. It’s just another monopoly engaged in a hostile takeover. In price-fixing. In abuse of a dominant position in the marketplace. In eliminating its own more affordable competition. At whose expense was this done? At the expense of the public’s access to affordable justice.
Harry argues that the Blight Panel is unconstitutional. Access to justice is an unwritten constitutional right. The Panel is part of a legislative design that violates it.
The Law Society violates the public interest which the paralegal regulatory law is supposed to serve. Harry argued that By-law 4 of the Law Society Act sanctions a conflict of interest. The Panel, appointed by lawyers, is part of that unconstitutional scheme. It judges paralegals’ rights to practice on the basis of the lawyers who appoint it and who it ultimately serves. The Panel agreed its legislation was being questioned by Harry. The Panel ruled that it was directly implicated in Harry’s argument because it was part of the administration of a law that Harry alleges was constitutionally flawed. It admitted that fact in its decision refusing to hear his challenge released July 5, 2011. But it did not want to take the reality of its own admission to its logical, inescapable conclusion. Blight did not have the inclination to bite the hand that fed her. So she looked for a way to weasel out.
Not quite what Blight had in mind
She found a way. Blight ruled that Harry’s argument was too much for her to handle. She said that the Panel was not “institutionally competent” to deal with such a broad constitutional challenge. Of course, she could not completely ignore his argument which she admitted in her decision, implicated the Panel. No judge can ignore a charge of conflict of interest and lack of independence. It is ABC that a judge must rule on such a sweeping attack on his or her authority. So what she stated in her decision was that Harry’s challenge is “appropriately raised before a Court of original jurisdiction”. Aha! Pass the buck! And that’s why Harry is going to the Superior Court.
Harry’s application to the Superior Court may not be exactly what Blight had in mind. The reference to a “Court of original jurisdiction” which Blight said should hear Harry’s challenge means a Court that will deal with the constitutionality of By-law 4 as a totally new original case separate from the context of his good character hearing. Blight decided to continue to hear the merits of his good character hearing and even set seven new dates to consider the evidence of witnesses. So, while Harry cruises the courthouses looking for a judge, the show against him goes on. Get it? Isn’t that almost like telling somebody that first they’ll hang him and then he can have a trial on the charges in another forum? What was Blight thinking? Could she really believe she could weasel out so easily from dealing with his argument? And why does she lack the moral and ethical courage to deal with Harry’s argument that lawyers are breaching the public interest? Harry almost believed in her moral courage and desire to be fair to him. Was he wrong?
Kopyto is going to the Superior Court, but not to start a new case as Blight suggested. Even if he wanted to, he would probably lack standing to do so because he was never personally denied access to affordable justice which is the constitutional issue at stake. He is going to the Superior Court to get an order directing Blight to deal with his challenge to By-law 4 and the illegitimate appointment of the Panel by lawyers. It’s your job. Do it, Margot Blight! Show Harry his confidence in your fairness was not misplaced.
Your presence can make a difference
The Superior Court has three choices. First, it could grant an order to force the Blight Panel to deal with Harry’s motion on the basis that he has no adequate alternative remedy. Second, it could agree to allow Harry to have the issues resolved in the Court as suggested by the Blight Panel which would be unlikely for the reasons indicated above. Or, it could deny Harry’s application completely, leaving him no right to question the independence of the Panel and the validity of By-law 4. Such a denial, of course, would amount to a miscarriage of justice.
A date for Harry’s application is being scheduled most likely for September 2011. The Law Society and Harry Kopyto are both gearing up for the fierce Court fight that will decide the future course of his constitutional challenge to the paralegal takeover. Harry’s fundamental rights have been denied. Also, the legitimate moral and legal challenge to the institutional framework that works against the public’s right to affordable justice is being denied as well. Will Harry be granted the right to make his argument before the Blight Panel by the Court? Will the Court turn its back on him and back Blight’s decision to deny his right to be heard? The Court’s decision may ultimately depend on Harry’s support in the community and how many members of the public attend the Court hearing anticipated to be heard in early September, 2011 to ensure that justice is done. Be there. The stakes are high.