Kopyto Remains Under LSUC Fire: Recap – Nov 22 & Look ahead – Jan 3+5

Blight Distances Herself from Greenaway

LSUC investigator Adrian Greenaway is not a happy man.  It’s not only the questions that Harry peppered him with on November 22, 2011, his fifth day of cross-examination.  It’s deeper. True, it’s just not really been a fun time for him at all.  The cocky self-confidence is gone. His answers are now blurted out in a blunt word or two. Then follows a meandering explanation, a “rationale” if you will.

The Law Society is a complicated world for Adrian. The answers are not always easy.  Adrian has to explain himself, justify what he is doing for a living, maybe even get a promotion for his performance as a witness if he pleases his superiors whom he seeks to emulate.  He listens carefully to each question.  He thinks deliberately. His face sometimes breaks out unexpectedly in animated expressions.  He tries to be focused.  Sometimes, he takes off on a tangent.  He gets more easily irritated with each day of being on the stand.  But, the bounce is gone. The bounce is definitely gone.

Ironically, the culprit behind Adrian’s increased moodiness is not Harry.  It is Margot Blight, the Chair of the three-person Panel that is assessing Harry’s character to see if he merits being allowed to work as a legal advocate as he has done for the last 38 years.  What irony—that Adrian’s new nemesis is none other than the demure, accomplished, upwardly mobile Margot Blight!  All three panelists volunteered for this posting.  But Blight is steering the ship.  She is writing all the judgments and orders, meticulously case-managing the hearing that is now in its 28th day.

Back to Greenaway.  Greenaway is sincere. He is trying to make it in his second career since quitting his 17-year stint as a Metro cop. But his training makes him see the world in black and white.  True, he does have street smarts—savvy.  He knows what his role is.  He is also the architect of the LSUC case against Harry Kopyto. Harry is disbarred because of overbilling Legal Aid.  Harry does lawyers’ work (unauthorized practice).  Harry does not obey rules, no matter whether the rules jeopardize the interests of Harry’s clients. Harry therefore has bad character. End of story.

Won’t Go Behind Disbarment

Harry asks him about the Ontario Legal Aid Plan’s settling hundreds of thousands of dollars of his legal aid accounts after his disbarment without taking a cent off for any fraud.  (Kopyto was disbarred for allegedly fraudulently overbilling the Plan.) “What does this say about my character?” Kopyto asks. Greenaway catches on right away.  “I’m not going to go behind [i.e. critically evaluate the circumstances of] your disbarment,” he responds emphatically with a well-rehearsed even if somewhat tired line.  Now those of us who are really naïve may not appreciate fully what he is saying.  We may even believe simple-mindedly that the search for truth might require a person to look at all the evidence to find out what really happened.

Harry has been asking for decades why Legal Aid never sought to be compensated for his alleged overbilling without an answer.  In fact, he launched a lawsuit seeking full repayment of all his accounts “frozen” during the disbarment proceedings in 1989. And the Ontario Legal Aid Plan agreed to settle the case on his terms paying him in full and avoiding a civil trial that would have exposed the LSUC’s Big Lie.

The fact that Harry was never charged criminally when he wrote then Attorney-General Ian Scott a public letter demanding to be charged for fraud does not figure in Greenaway’s thinking.  The fact that Legal Aid never claimed compensation is not on Greenaway’s radar.  “I will not go behind your disbarment,” Greenaway’s master’s voice speaks.

Greenaway’s bald blindness to reality is an embarrassment to Blight. She comes from a different space.  Polished, subtle, aware that she must appear fair. She promised Harry at the start of the hearings that she would allow him to fully explain and explore the circumstances of his disbarment.  That she would not prejudge his guilt.  And now she is just ever so slightly squirming at Greenaway’s bluntness.  “His opinions are not very helpful, Mr. Kopyto,” she says, “It is our opinions that matter.”  One of many comments distancing her from Greenaway.

One Moment Please, Ms. Blight

One moment please, Ms. Blight.  Let’s say a few words in defense of Adrian.  His opinions do matter. He is the one who recommended that a good character hearing is necessary.  He is the one who writes the investigation reports that almost always end up being the “Statement of Facts” LSUC prosecutors base their prosecution on.  Adrian knows his role and feels justified in defending the LSUC’s ideology. He seeks to please his superiors whom he deeply admires, and whose mentality of repression and control he has osmotically absorbed. We don’t go behind the disbarment. We don’t question the decisions of Convocation. We follow rules and prosecute those who don’t. And we don’t question or reconsider our judgments.

But we also know where Greenaway’s attitudes and perceptions were initially shaped. They were shaped enforcing liquor laws in the Entertainment District in Downtown Toronto.  There are good guys and bad guys.  That’s all you know. That’s all you need to know.

Greenaway never questions his superior elite in the LSUC’s hierarchy.  The LSUC elite lives in its own world.  Until the 1970s, they still had their junior staff wash their afternoon teacups when they met to confer with each other.  He accepts their expertise and follows their directives uncritically. Their rationales become his rationales. Their prejudices become his prejudices. Their values become his values. Their aggressive controlling mentality melds well with his police-trained mentality. Nothing is gray. Unswerving compliance with directives is the surest path to promotion and job security. Greenaway has already proven himself by his “kills”—more than a dozen grandparenting applicants whose fate was professional death based on his investigative work which he did admit was “a little sloppy” in earlier evidence.

Greenaway even comes with a claim to fame. He won a lawsuit against a City Councillor, Kyle Rae in 2002, who criticized Greenaway’s role in invading the Pussy Palace during a widely advertised lesbian gathering already infiltrated by undercover female officers.  But the truth is that Adrian is not perfect and may even himself have “bad character”. Ontario Court Judge Peter Hryn criticized Greenaway and other cops for “bringing the administration of justice into disrepute” for his conduct as one of seven male cops who went rogue on what City Councillor Kyle Rae called a “panty raid” in 2002.

Greenaway’s opinions are important, Ms. Blight. You will come and go but Adrian is here to stay. He is the real face of the Law Society. He is, for those he investigates, the Law Society itself.  He reveals the Law Society’s ideology without the fig-leaf: bare-naked aggression, a presumption of guilt that can’t be pierced, a black and white analysis that obliterates inconvenient truths.  Tunnel vision, intolerance of those who challenge their authority. Arrogance. Self-righteousness.  A sense that the LSUC can do no wrong. The confidence that money and connections gives the LSUC which is the most powerful organization outside the government in Ontario.

Yes, Ms. Blight, Adrian’s opinions are those of a functionary who has absorbed the ideology of the elite of the LSUC hierarchy.  He is a footsoldier who has absorbed the elite’s mindset in a blinkered, robotic way. This sometimes leads to a chilling frankness which you, Ms. Blight, should not attempt to sweep under the rug because it reflects the real face of the LSUC without the window-dressing.

The Truth is in the Details

Harry, who is now being targeted as incorrigible for doing lawyers’ work, asked Adrian about a case in his Report that accused Harry of bad character for helping an indigent client—pro bono—who was being sued in his marriage breakup.  Harry was asked to represent him by a well-known respected lawyer who was also a member of Parliament and a former Ontario Cabinet Minister. The client spoke no English, was on welfare and was being harassed by his ex-wife who resided outside Ontario.

Harry was asked to work pro bono which he agreed to do out of a sense that his client was entitled to defend himself and there was absolutely no other option available to him. Unhesitatingly, Greenaway attacks Harry’s character for unauthorized practice in helping this client for free.

Harry asked Greenaway if it would still be evidence of bad character to prepare a defence for his client even if it were reviewed and vetted by a licensed lawyer. “Yes,” Greenaway replied, “because you were breaking the law by practicing outside your scope.” Without Harry’s provision of the legal services, the client would have had an unfair judgment against him for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Harry asked if Harry’s preventing such an unjust result was still evidence of his bad character.  Greenaway said “Yes.” Harry asked why.  Greenaway proffered that it was illegal for Harry to provide a Superior Court defence as a paralegal.  Harry asked if it would be evidence of good character if he had left the client out to dry rather than performing a free legal service.  Again, Greenaway said “Yes.” Loud gasps and scoffs emanated from the public that was invigilating the hearing. This resulted in a stern admonition from Blight.  Harry asked what choice the client had. Greenaway said the client could have gone to a lawyer whom Harry referred some cases to. Ironically, this was a lawyer that Greenaway had insisted earlier should not have taken any cases from Harry. But the client couldn’t pay the lawyer so it wasn’t happening. Greenaway’s response?  A shrug.

Case Against Harry Irrational

These two exchanges reveal the irrationality of the case against Kopyto.  Harry’s conduct in helping his client is consistent with the constitutional principle of access to justice.  This is a basic right according to the Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin of the Supreme Court who asks “How can there be public confidence in a system of justice that shuts people out?”  Yet enforcement of a by-law drafted by the LSUC legal department to protect lawyers from competition takes precedence over the integrity of the judicial system itself in evaluating Harry’s character?  Go figure.

Maybe we are missing something.  Oh yes. The Law Society is protecting the public from incompetent paralegals.  The LSUC ideologists have publicly proclaimed that the “public interest” was the only factor that led them to cut the scope of paralegals to the bone during the 2007 takeover.  So that’s what keeps Greenaway awake at night.  He’s protecting the public—a noble goal indeed!  In fact, in a fit of animated passion, the flummoxed Greenaway raised the completely speculative spectre that parties to a lawsuit could argue against a court decision on the basis that they were not properly represented by an unauthorized assistant—something that has never happened or that could happen only in the wild world of contrived paranoia of the LSUC.

Okay, Harry replied. “So let’s say that I show the court document that I prepared without charge to a lawyer to vet and amend before it is filed in the court to ensure quality?  Does that make a difference?”

Whose Law Should be Obeyed?

“It is still bad character, because you’re breaking the law,” Adrian replies.  But that begs the question. Whose law should be obeyed?  A constitutional right or a cash grab by-law?

This exchange revealed that providing access to justice for the LSUC means nothing compared to protecting its turf. Basic constitutional rights are sacrificed for selfish economic rights.  It reveals a near hysterical fear that the lawyers’ monopoly will be breached even when quality of service is assured by the involvement of lawyers.  Obedience to rules has a higher ethical component than assisting people in dire need. But history is made by people who break unjust laws.  Take that, Ghandi!  Take that, Rosa Parks!  Take that, Vaclav Havel! Take that, Martin Luther King!  The Law Society’s Old Boys say that all of you have bad character.  You could never meet the ethical standard for practising law in Ontario.  You break rules.

Blight makes notes.  She writes a lot.  She listens intently. She will decide. But what will she say?  Will she polish off Greenaway’s justification for attacking Kopyto’s character with a legalistic veneer?  Will she look at the big picture? Will she retreat to a narrow definition of public interest? Will she assess Harry’s character using the timeworn, tired old clichés that lawyers are so good at creating to mask their real intentions which Greenaway unwittingly exposes?

Greenaway’s Evidence Crumbles

Blight will have to weigh Greenaway’s evidence. It included many other exchanges revealing the LSUC’s contrived case against Harry’s character.

  • Greenaway argued that if a law is unfair, you have to obey it until it is changed.  But 25 years of gutting Legal Aid and an average lawyer’s  fee of $338 an hour (and soaring) makes a mockery of promises of change.  99% of the population knows well the class character of the legal system. Real change comes from bold challenges and people resisting unfairness.  It comes in fits and starts.  Tunisia and Egypt are examples of people trying to take control of unresponsive institutions by civil disobedience.  One young person who breached a law in Tunisia for setting up a fruit stand recently set a dozen countries locked in repression for decades ablaze with the prospect of change by tens of millions inspired by his fiery death.
  • Greenaway agreed that the story of two witnesses the LSUC intends to call “does not make sense.” They claim Harry misrepresented himself as a lawyer in a small claims court action which does not require a lawyer to represent clients.  So why are they calling them as witnesses?  Is this the best the prosecutors can do?
  • Greenaway argues that Harry misrepresented himself by preparing documents in his clients’ names—something lawyers are allowed to do.  Harry pointed out that in the case being discussed, it was made clear that the client asked to use Harry’s publicly ascertainable address, fax and phone number. The Defence was even marked “c/o”. Where was the misrepresentation?  Adrian Greenaway said that it was to the opposing lawyer and his client.   What is he talking about?
  • Greenaway insisted that the lawyer in that case who will be called as a witness didn’t know that Harry was not a lawyer and, when he found out, refused to deal with him. Yet that lawyer continuously telephoned Harry and only complained to the LSUC  about Harry when he couldn’t get Harry to force a proposed settlement on his client. Greenaway, investigator par excellence, could not explain the reference to the settlement in the lawyer’s letter of complaint against Harry.  The lawyer’s story that he had dealt with Harry for months until he suddenly discovered who Harry was the day after the offer was rejected by Harry’s client is clear evidence of vengeance for his failed attempt to blackmail Harry.
  • Greenaway called Harry a liar because Harry claimed in a public statement that his disbarment was owing to the kind of law he practised. Yet, Ian Outerbridge, who chaired the disbarment panel in 1989, claimed that “Harry swears to tear down and smash the legal system and abjures the law…”  A clear statement of prejudice against the kind of law Harry represents.  Harry challenged Greenaway on his assertion that it was a sign of Harry’s bad character that Harry stated publicly that the reason for his disbarment had to do with the kind of law he practices and that he was treated selectively.  Harry outlined examples of selective treatment.  Harry pointed to a LSUC memo in which his law associate, Angie Codina, was advised to get Harry to resign as a lawyer in order to get her off the hook on totally unrelated charges.  Harry pointed to an LSUC panel’s ruling that LSUC senior prosecutor Steve Sheriff had abused the process of the LSUC by denying Harry’s request for subpoenas in respect to his disbarment hearing. Harry pointed out several different instances including LSUC Bencher Phillip Epstein’s Panel which was appointed to try Harry for professional misconduct in respect to his denunciation of the RCMP and courts being “stuck together like Krazy-Glue”. Harry pointed to a public protest by a LSUC auditor that he was told to lie about his reason for reviewing files of Harry’s associate. These actions demonstrate that Harry’s use of his practice as a tool for social change was motivating the LSUC’s disdain of him.

Law Society’s Own “Bad Character” Revealed

The evidence from Greenaway before Blight to date has done more to confirm the LSUC’s bad character than Harry’s.  It has involved:

  1. lying to him by pretending that the decision to put him through a good character hearing was to be made after the LSUC’s investigation although the decision was already made;
  2. accusing him of fraudulent overbilling of Legal Aid in the amount of $150,000 without explaining why the Ontario Legal Aid Plan never sought compensation from Harry that was readily available through deductions it could have made from his outstanding unpaid accounts;
  3. relying on witnesses whom Greenaway himself refuses to back or believe;
  4. using the LSUC’s one-sided investigation to build a case against Harry while not even bothering to obtain a single item of evidence of good character for Harry over a 22-year period of practice;
  5. accusing Harry of misrepresenting himself as being a lawyer, misrepresenting his disbarment to the media and other dishonest conduct, all of which accusations Greenaway has either abandoned or proved unable to establish in his testimony.

There is No Third Way

Ms. Blight, Adrian has a tough job to do.  You may not like to hear his blunt, contradictory, inconsistent and sometimes irrational opinions.  His twisted deceptions are not neatly folded. But Adrian is doing his best. Ultimately, you will need to decide whom you agree with. Do you agree with him or Harry Kopyto? There is no third way.

Philip Slayton, former Law School Dean and corporate lawyer, in his best-selling book Lawyers Gone Bad, states that “One might think this is what happened to Harry Kopyto”, referring to the fact that “a Law Society member who is different risks severe criticism and marginalization.” Is this something that you would at least consider happened to Harry, Ms. Blight?  We know you don’t relish being Harry’s saviour. But we expect you to exercise fair judgment instead of seeing Harry’s arguments as obstacles to be overcome.

Ms. Blight, your answers remain to be given.  They will be based in part on the ongoing cross-examination of Greenaway scheduled to continue on Tuesday January 3rd and Thursday January 5, 2013, 9:30 a.m. in the Museum Room, Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto. The public is asked to be there. Not only for Harry, but in support of his struggle for justice for all.

Harry Kopyto Defence Committee

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