Prosecutors Crack Whip over Blight Panel
The Law Society case against Kopyto is proceeding full steam ahead. Multiple hearing dates and witnesses against him have been lined up. Investigator Adrian Greenaway (a savvy ex-cop) is on the stand. On top of all this, public access to the hearings may be at threat.
The wind is in the Prosecutors’ sails. The Divisional Court decided October 11, 2011 to back up the Law Society Hearing Panel chaired by Margot Blight for refusing to hear Harry’s challenge to its jurisdictional authority.
Harry argues that the Panel functions as part of a scheme that denies affordable justice. He argues that the Blight Panel’s authority derives from a constitutionally flawed statute. By-law 4 of the Law Society Act restricts access to affordable justice by allowing lawyers to govern their more affordable paralegal competitors. Already, the scope of practice of paralegals has been dramatically shredded by the By-law. Just another hostile takeover by a price-fixing monopoly.
The Law Society prosecutors were cracking their whips fast and furious over the Blight Panel’s heads on Thursday October 13, 2011. There is a new bounce in their footsteps. All of Harry’s prehearing motions, except some of his demands for disclosure, have been denied unanimously by the Panel. The initiative is now with the prosecution.
Margot Blight is not Playing Coy
Margot Blight is not playing coy with the two lawyers directing Kopyto’s prosecution at the hearing. She announced that she would be denying Harry’s request that proof of bad character in his hearing should be determined beyond a reasonable doubt. She admitted evidence that was not relevant because the documents were part of the Law Society’s investigative file. She admitted the rulings of hostile and biased opinions of judges who refused to allow Kopyto to represent his clients in their courts. This means that Harry may not be allowed to refute their findings which must be given full effect.
With few exceptions, judges hate Kopyto. They remember his searing attack in the 1980s on the court system’s link to police encapsulated in his famous phrase, “The police and the courts are stuck together with Krazy-Glue”. For this phrase, Kopyto was found guilty of contempt, challenged the law of “scandalizing the court” and succeeded in having it abolished by the Ontario Court of Appeal. However, the memory of judges is long…
More recently, Kopyto’s exposure of Toronto Family Court Judge Marvin Zuker for falsifying a transcript of Kopyto’s appearance before him won Harry no accolades from the judiciary. The judges who the Law Society are relying on, who refused Kopyto audience, made all kinds of absurd attacks on him. Some went so far as to allege that Harry believed that there was a conspiracy against him. Kopyto may have no way of challenging their decisions.
Although all these decisions were made unanimously by the Panel on October 13, 2011, there were several occasions when the Panel adjourned the proceedings to consult each other. Unanimity was not automatic…yet the two non-lawyer members of the Panel ended up following Margot Blight’s lead every time.
Public Access to Harry’s Hearing at Stake
The hearing ended on an ominous note. Prior to hearing evidence, Margot Blight indicated agreement with the Law Society prosecutors’ motion to exclude witnesses from the Hearing Room because they may be influenced by evidence that they hear on the stand. Kopyto protested that most of the persons present at the hearing room would be witnesses for him and accordingly would be excluded from the hearing room. Harry attacked this effort to exclude public scrutiny of his hearing as a tactic reminiscent of the Star Chamber. Only Kopyto’s sharp attack on Blight’s rush to judgment compelled her to reopen her decision. She gave him a week to make responding submissions on whether witnesses should be excluded. However, the Law Society counsel, Susan Heakes, snidely hinted that the request was a maneuver to derail scheduled hearing dates while Harry could continue to practice. This underhanded attack on Harry’s motive hit home with Blight who immediately reduced his preparation time to respond to the motion to exclude witnesses to three days. And she insisted that it be done in writing thereby limiting public oversight. Blight’s decision on the motion will be announced on October 24, 2011.
The Case Against Harry
The Law Society’s rush to justice is reaching a feverish pitch. The Law Society hounds smell blood. Kopyto is likely the last of 140 or so grandparenting paralegals chosen to undergo good character hearings, the overwhelming majority of whom have been denied the right to practice their profession. But Kopyto is fighting back. The Law Society’s credibility has been hurt by the protracted length of the hearings now entering its third year. So they are anxious to shut Harry down. But there is another reason why, Kopyto is special to the Law Society. Insolent criticism of their exercise of power is a threat to their authority and they mean to make an example of him.
To do this, the Law Society is out to paint a picture of Harry as dishonest. Thus, a missing page from his credit rating report is deemed to be an effort to suppress evidence. His disbarment for allegedly defrauding the Ontario Legal Aid Plan is deemed evidence of bad character with nothing said about the fact that Legal Aid paid in full all Kopyto’s contentious legal aid accounts. How can that be the case if Harry had committed fraud?
The Law Society accuses Harry of failing to cooperate in its investigation of his good character but Investigator Adrian Greenaway, who boasts of being able to work without control or supervision, knew his job was to build a case against Kopyto, not objectively consider his character without prejudgment. Kopyto had no obligation to cooperate in an adversarial investigation carried out in bad faith, especially when legions of documents relevant to his interrogation were withheld from him.
Is Harry Kopyto Ungovernable?
In an opening statement delivered October 13, 2011 before calling Adrian Greenaway as a witness, prosecutor Susan Heakes described Harry as being “ungovernable”. However, the question Harry asks is: who is to govern him? Is it to be Big Law, which wants to restrict competition and maintain their price-fixing monopoly at the public’s expense? And who do the rules of his governing body serve? Do they serve the public interest? Or do they serve the voracious acquisitiveness of a profession many of whose members are renowned for their astronomical fees and capacity to camouflage their true motives?
Harry has already admitted trenching on lawyers’ turf by helping clients who could not afford lawyers to prepare documents. While Harry usually did so in the clients’ names and with the clients’ agreement to avoid making an issue of his role, which was irrelevant to his clients’ case, he never denied his involvement. He frequently used his office address and fax number including sometimes his telephone number on these documents.
Similarly, lawyers routinely draft pleadings for clients who can’t afford to put them on the record in the client’s name without any suggestion of impropriety. However, the two-faced Law Society would prefer to have Harry’s clients have no representation at all than to have Harry’s assistance.
The Drum Roll Begins
The ghostly minders of the Blight Panel, those who pay its members and who assigned them to Kopyto’s good character hearing and to whom they ultimately report, have grown impatient with Harry. They want to slam the door shut on the debate over the paralegal takeover. Harry’s hearing has lasted far too long. His accusations have received some resonance. There are more paralegals than the Law Society wishes to shake a stick at who look to Harry’s struggle as one being waged on behalf of all of them, for meaningful professional independence instead of being an internal colony of a competing monopoly. And many members of the public also look to Harry for inspiration in their own struggles for justice that only the rich can usually afford.
The Law Society is trying to throw every piece of mud they can dig up at Harry in the hope that some (or all) of it will stick. Susan Heakes cleverly made a reference to the costs award against Harry Kopyto granted by the Divisional Court two days earlier when he sought an order to compel the Blight Panel to rule on his constitutional challenge to their authority. This reference by her was irrelevant to Harry’s character because the law permits 30 days to pay costs. Heakes knows that. So why the reference? Heakes was telegraphing Blight, as if she was not aware, that the Divisional Court backed Blight in ducking Kopyto’s challenge and, presumably, will back any decision to excommunicate Kopyto from the paralegal profession. Big Law is fed up. The drum roll leading to Kopyto’s defrocking has begun.
But Harry’s fight is far from over. Kopyto knows that the ultimate reason for attempting to extinguish his career is to silence him. He has played a fierce role as a gadfly and critic of the judicial system for decades, which annoyed Big Law to no end.
Interestingly, the Law Society has adjusted its catalogue of charges against Kopyto by dropping from their list of charges exhibits and documents in which he has criticized the courts and spoken out against some judges and the Law Society. They want to hide their true motives in attacking Kopyto’s character. They want to undermine his credibility as a voice for critics of a system that has become a mockery to the vast majority who cannot even access it. And they know that Harry is a public figure taken seriously by many in the media.
Kopyto continues his fight to force Blight to rule on the constitutional flaw in By-law 4 which appoints her as his judge. He has already filed an Application for Leave to Appeal in the Ontario Court of Appeal. He is planning a court proceeding that will allow him to adjudicate the issues that Blight does not want to deal with.
He is slated to cross-examine Adrian Greenaway on Monday October 24, 2011 in the Museum Room, Osgoode Hall at 9:30 a.m. The Law Society is set to attack the public and accessible character of the hearing. Your solidarity and presence has never been more important.
Harry Kopyto Defence Committee