Harry Kopyto is back before the Law Society on Thursday August 29th and Friday August 30th at 9:30 a.m. on each day at Osgoode Hall in the Museum Room. Most of the time has been reserved for evidence from Harry’s witnesses. They need your solidarity and support. Please be there.
You will recall that the Harry Kopyto Defence Committee recently received an anonymous package in the mail. It contained a copy of the Official Training Manual published by the Law Society of Upper Canada. This manual codifies the rules taught to prosecuting pugilistic lawyers at quasi-judicial boxing matches. The last blog article dealt with Lesson One from the Manual. This article will deal with Lesson Two.
Lesson Two-Ignore Reality
Lesson Two is simple. It does not matter whether you actually prove your case. You should act as if you have proven it. You cannot lose. We have a monopoly on being right, even when we are wrong. Are we ever wrong? Maybe. But it is not important. What’s important is to never admit that we are wrong. We create our own reality. If the evidence doesn’t prove our case, we act as if does. We ignore the evidence that doesn’t fit. Remember: a lie shouted is louder than a truth whispered. Don’t even give an inch. Our punches always land even when they don’t land. Every punch from our opponents misses. Ignore reality. End of Lesson Two.
Such a bald rejection of reality needs a rationalization. And, dear reader, you ask what might such a rationalization be? The Society sees itself as a vulnerable fortress of judicial moral purity under siege. It is protecting the honour of a hard-working, selfless legal profession of hard-hitting legal champions who work long (billable) hours and ask for nothing more than the rightful fruits of their labour. On the other hand, Kopyto is part of an army of marauding upstarts with the moral standards of a Neanderthal. These invaders of our turf seek to pollute the purity of our judicial institutions. These shady characters hang around our good character and discipline hearings besmirching our sterling reputation. When they climb into the ring to seek official status, they can be expected to break all the rules and use deceit and nefarious illegal tactics to defeat our own champions. They throw low blows, illegal rabbit punches and insert brass knuckles in their boxing gloves. Everything we can do to stop them serves God and Country. Every one of their victories is our defeat. We are called to do our duty.
Manichaean Evil Against Crusaders for Truth
This perception of the forces at play—Manichaean evil on one side versus selfless crusaders for truth and justice on the other—focuses the Society’s vision of the game played out in the ring from beginning to end. Everything that fits into their quasi-religious construct is given credit and clothed with a cloak of reality. Everything that contradicts it is deemed illusory, whether it is or not. Hence, the opponents’ strong hits should not even be acknowledged. At best, whatever evidence is presented against the Society is an anomaly and should be ignored as if it wasn’t there.
Let’s study the application of Lesson Two from the Official Training Manual to the match that took place on June 19, 2013, the second round of Harry’s cross-examination. The Society’s veteran prosecutor, Susan Heakes, failed to administer a flash knockdown against Harry during her punch-up with him during the previous match. This time, she knew that Big Money was wagered on a knockout punch by her. The purse was high. The bleachers were full. The pressure was on. She had to perform. With that thought in mind, Heakes rushed to centre ring, immediately went toe-to-toe with Harry and let go with a straight punch. She then struck him with an illegal underhand, hooked him on the inside and quickly scampered back to her comfort zone. Kopyto was caught cold. He hit the ropes, a little dazed from the attack. Slowly, he regained his footing, bouncing back without going flat on the canvas. Heakes had struck hard at Harry’s targeted spots which were still sore from the last match. Those spots related to Harry’s handling of the Alan Gosling case. This time, she wanted to use that case to whallop Harry clear out of the arena. The knockout punch would result from her convincing the three-judge panel, carefully evaluating the game with their scorecards in hand, that Harry had hidden from them searing criticism made of him in the LeSage Report commissioned by Toronto Housing.
LeSage Report a Whitewash
That report whitewashed the murderous treatment of Al Gosling, a client of Harry’s who died following his eviction from Toronto Housing by the Landlord Tenant Board. Patrick LeSage, a former Judge in the Big Leagues (remember the Bernardo trial?) was appointed by Toronto Housing to defuse the public outrage following Al’s death a few years ago. LeSage slammed Kopyto for failing to defend Al before the Landlord Tenant Board. Al had talked himself into believing that Harry, who had defended him in many earlier cases, would be there. Al had illusions about the Board. Harry could not have made a difference. Harry never agreed to appear at what he knew would be a rubber stamp hearing in favour of Toronto Housing. Gosling refused to hand over income information to Toronto Housing—he had no legal right to withhold it. Kopyto couldn’t persuade him otherwise. What defence could Harry advance at the Landlord Tenant Board hearing? Harry’s presence would only have added an aura of legitimacy to Al’s eviction. Neither a sympathetic judge nor Legal Aid duty counsel present at the hearing were able to block the eviction order. Even LeSage’s Report never set out any defence Harry could have advanced on Al’s behalf. If Kopyto had shown up, he would just be pissing in the wind.
Patrick LeSage Does Not Come Cheap
LeSage’s attack on Harry for not showing up at the hearing was a cheap cover for Toronto Housing’s brutal treatment of vulnerable tenants like Al Gosling. LeSage’s predictable Report, brimming with fine words and sanctimonious declamations, was, in reality, only a whitewash of Toronto Housing’s eviction policy. This eviction policy was never questioned. Ultimately, only a non-eviction policy could have saved Al’s life. Despite Al’s belief that Harry would be by his side at the hearing, Harry never contacted the Board or Toronto Housing regarding the appearance, never went on the record, never chose a hearing date and had no involvement in the case before the Board. The process was fixed in Harry’s eyes—he wanted no part of it. It wasn’t that Harry dumped Al like LeSage suggests. It was Toronto Housing that dumped Al and it was LeSage who dumped on Harry to protect Toronto Housing, which undoubtedly paid LeSage back richly, knowing LeSage’s expansive hourly fee. LeSage did not sell his largely trumped-up reputation of fairness and independence by going into the gutter for Toronto Housing for monkey change. Patrick Lesage does not come cheap.
LeSage Had a Script to Follow
Harry tried to contact LeSage. He wanted to lay it all out. But he had his qualms. Was Lesage likely to bite the hand that fed him? After all, LeSage was hired to cover Toronto Housing’s derriere, not to hoist it on its own pétard. Harry remembered from his childhood the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin in 1284. The moral of that tale? He who pays the piper calls the tune. Harry also knew about all the other commissions and inquiries Toronto Housing had set up in the past—always after a crisis, always with recommendations that were ignored. That is why Harry insisted that LeSage meet him to discuss the case in public before an audience of Toronto Housing tenants. After all, the LeSage Report was not about LeSage or Harry. It was about the tenants and their fate. They had the right to hear the full story. Surprise! Surprise! LeSage declined. He had a script to follow. A public exchange with Harry was not in it.
Al and Harry Sang Solidarity Forever
Dear reader, please permit a brief diversion to get Al’s story right so Harry’s alleged crime can be seen in context. Al didn’t want to provide Toronto Housing with information about his income, a measly Old Age Pension and insignificant bank balance which it needed to adjust its rental charge each year. Al felt vulnerable. In his old age, he grew more suspicious. He thought Toronto Housing wanted to clean him out, not that there was anything much to clean. Without Al’s input, Toronto Housing charged Al rent based on the maximum imputed income and threatened eviction to take him out of the game all together. That’s when Harry Kopyto climbed into the ring and joined the punch-up on Al’s behalf.
First, Harry tried to convince Al to cooperate. Al was feisty right to the end. Al was a fighter like Harry, even joining him once at a May Day dinner Harry had taken him to. Al’s raised fist clinched in a show of determination was forever emblazoned in Harry’s memory as they sang Solidarity Forever together. Al visited Harry at home and got to know his family. But Al underestimated the heartlessness of Toronto Housing. He overestimated the fairness of the Landlord Tenant Board. He had an exaggerated view of Harry’s capacity to bring him justice at the Board hearing. He rejected Harry’s advice to cooperate. Against Harry’s repeated exhortations, Al refused to budge. Sadly, he persisted in the brawl with a heavy-hitting Toronto Housing opponent which quickly established ring governorship.
At, 83, a faded bleeder, Al was ripe for a knock-down in any match with Toronto Housing. Harry just couldn’t stop his frail friend from being knocked out and tossed through the ropes, crumpled like a rag doll. That is exactly what happened. Gosling had no chance.
Everyone Has Their Own Truth
Back to the boxing ring at Osgoode Hall. Heakes’ accusation against Harry that he was covering up the LeSage Report from the panel of judges was worthy of the most punch-aggressive pugilist. As she stood trying to guess at his response, Kopyto suddenly jabbed her in the breadbasket with a straight right. Her knees buckled. He produced a press release that had been marked as an exhibit at an earlier bout that contained LeSage’s criticism of Harry and his response. Kopyto waved the press release that he had written himself in the air. The three judges looked fascinated. Heakes writhed in pain. The crowd roared. No one could ignore that it was there. Heakes was mortified that her bluff was called. Reality impinged suddenly as Heakes’ accusation against Harry, based on a fantasy, evaporated into the air already thick with the smoke rising from the fat cigars being munched on by the Society boosters occupying the ringside seats who had come to see Harry bleed. Instead, they saw their champion choke.
Heakes’ number was up. She dragged herself back to her corner, was given a moment of respite to consider her options and to try to recover from Harry’s knockdown punch before the bell rang announcing the start of the next round. Heakes moved forward cautiously out of her corner scarcely raising her frame. Everyone was wondering. Would Heakes continue to implement Lesson Two? Was Heakes’ rout in the last round caused by overconfidence, selective memory, poor training or her inherent limits as a boxer? None of the above. She was just doing her job implementing Lesson Two: deny reality. Heakes’ false punch against Harry originated from her training in the Society’s gym. Truth is malleable. Everyone has their own truth in this judicial forum. Would the judges prefer the truth with this flavour or would they prefer the truth with that flavour? In this forum, a sport is played where “judicial facts” made by a judge are true for eternity. They can never be questioned. They trump reality.
Harry Admires Heakes’ Commitment
Heakes tried miserably to ignore the press release exhibit that devastated her false accusation and that had struck her with the force of a sweeping counterpunch that rattled every tooth in her jaw. The press release exposed explosively the false premise of her attempt to floor Harry to the entire paying audience which now reacted with a mixture of dismay and pity. And then, as Heakes finally clambered punch-drunk from the canvas back onto her feet, stumbling unceremoniously while seeing stars, she still tried to maintain a mien of denial. She bit her lower lip, a sign of self-doubt which she tried to mask with a weak smile. She was still trying to apply Lesson Two. Although she had been knocked flat out on the canvas, she was still not prepared to let go of the fantasy that she had been trained to never concede was a fantasy.
Secretly, Harry admired her loyalty to the Society while also pitying a mind so bereft of reality. Susan Heakes was a committed opponent. She never gave up her illusions even at the end. She was a keen and masterful practitioner of Lesson Two: ignore reality. This time, however, it didn’t work.