Does Kopyto have Good Character?
Next Thursday and Friday September 27th and 28, 2012, have been set for Kopyto’s ongoing character assessment hearings before the Law Society. The issue: does Harry have the good character to be grandparented as a paralegal?
The current marathon push by the Law Society to rule on Kopyto’s character—a total of six hearing days in a one month period—puts paid to Panel Chair Margot Blight’s reputation as a case management maven.
“You have the floor, Mr. Kopyto.”
The rush to justice is masked by a more conciliatory tone from the Chair of the three-person panel judging Harry. “You have the floor, Mr. Kopyto,” Ms. Blight proclaimed on September 20th from the front of the Museum Room in Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto where the proceedings are taking place. This unexpected, accommodating approach by Blight was evident during the hearings both on September 14th and 20th. Conscious repositioning as a beacon of fairness gives Ms. Blight a veneer of objectivity which contrasts with her own prior record as well as the positions being taken by the two Law Society prosecutors, Susan Heakes and Catherine-Ann Dionne. They have, in the past, and continue at the present to press the Blight Panel to reign in the time being allotted to Harry to cross-examine witnesses and to allow him to testify in his defence against charges of poor character. But even their tone is discernibly more muted. Maybe it is because they smell blood and are smacking their lips in anticipation of savoring the ultimate result of their close to four-year prosecution of Harry.
Stock Image Destroyed
Kopyto’s testimony during the last three days contrasted sharply with the LSUC’s portrayal of him as an ungovernable thief. His evidence, supported by exhibits, has confirmed that Harry has a selfless devotion to the cause of justice. His testimony confirmed his critical role in several precedent-setting cases. His testimony confirmed the broad public support that he has been able to muster for his clients, the 99% who are powerless in the face of Big Law and Big Money.
With the stock image of Harry promoted by the LSUC virtually destroyed, the Panel’s two side members appear to be listening more intently. Baljit Sikand, appointed by the Attorney General, asked Harry on September 20th what his view were of By-law 4 of the Law Society Act passed by the Ontario Legislature in 2007 reducing paralegals’ scope of practice when it implemented the Access to Justice Act. This is a key issue Harry has raised.
During his testimony on September 20th, even Blight appeared interested and even anticipated Harry’s evidence, refining some of his points and completing his sentences. On September 14th, she recalled that she likely attended a wine and cheese party organized in Harry’s support by the Dean’s Office of the University of Toronto Law School when Harry was charged with scandalizing the court for criticizing the cozy relationship between the police and the courts.
Let’s Play Nice
There is a certain curiousness to their novel “let’s play nice” approach. Blight may not hang out at the pool hall Friday nights but she knows the score. She was brought in to chair the third panel (the earlier two imploded under Harry’s hammer blows) judging Harry because of her highly honed skills as a mouthpiece for the legal establishment. Her job is to put out fires. It is in her DNA. If you are betting, her previous history does not augur well for a decision by her affirming Harry’s good character.
Ever so subtly, Blight is revealing her hand. Her gun-sight is now focused on Harry’s admitted unauthorized practice, admitted breach of an order not to associate with lawyer Joseph Markin who represents many of his clients for reasonable fees and Harry’s apparent refusal to cooperate with the LSUC’s (biased) investigation of his character. Rule obedience appears to remain the ultimate determinant Blight relies on in judging Harry’s character. Harry, of course, does not always score highly in obedience to the Law Society’s self-interested rules when they extinguish the possibility of real justice for his clients. A constitutional challenge to these rules on the basis that they deny affordable access to justice will be argued by Harry before the LSUC after his evidence is in.
Harry’s testimony has added a complexity to his prosecution by Big Law, now entering into its 55th day (hard to believe), give or take a few days. Savvy lawyers (a term that the Law Society Investigator Adrian Greenaway used), describe the LSUC’s staff who instinctively spin the LSUC brand image. Blight may even be sincere but subconsciously or otherwise, she absorbs the norms of those who appoint her, surround her, pay her and assess her performance in judging Harry. She knows her job well; self-critical, she is not. Where lawyers rule, their interest reigns. And their interest is to drive Kopyto, a renegade maverick whistle-blower who reveals secrets whispered in the backstage out of the courts.
Blight Hits the Shoals
Blight’s efforts to reduce Harry’s lifelong pattern of pursuing justice to “background” (using her term) evidence, hit the shoals as Kopyto’s lifelong pattern of commitment of his pursuit of justice was established by his documented testimony. There is a seamless continuum of his advocacy practice as a legal voice for tenants, minorities, working poor, gays, victims of police abuse and the disabled, to mention only some of his constituencies over the last 38 years. This evidence impacted on Blight’s repeated prior admonitions that the panel was concerned with his character as of the date of the hearing itself—as if one changes his character as easily as one might change one’s shoes. Harry’s historical record cannot be easily swept under the rug.
Is the fix in?
Blight has the resources to rewire the Panel’s approach to fit another paradigm if needed. She is one smart lady. She continues to focus on issues that have no bearing on Harry’s character. Good character is defined as honesty, truthfulness, empathy and self-sacrifice. However, the Law Society’s case against Harry is a wild and unrestrained mud-slinging fest. An administrative directive by the head honchos who drive the Law Society well-oiled machine have decided to refer every complaint against Harry to the good character panel, whether or not it relates to his character. Blight has abided by this bureaucratic directive with sycophantic loyalty. This is why many of Harry’s supporters believe that the fix is in.
Kopyto Represents 99% against 1%
Harry continues to testify in defence of his professional status. He will be there at 9:30 a.m. in the Museum Room at Osgoode Hall next Thursday and Friday, in the heart of the monster, giving his testimony. Solidarity with Harry has never been more important.
The Law Society must be compelled to live up to its pretensions of giving him a fair hearing. Public superintendence of those who judge him remains essential. The presence of the public inhibits the Panel from denying Harry procedural rights by rushing him in presenting his defence.
Kopyto is the firewall between the 99% he represents against the 1% the Law Society protects. Your presence helps ensure that the public interest allows Harry to continue working as a paralegal. It gives Harry visible support. Be there.