The e-mail came in at 1:58 p.m. yesterday. It came from the Law Society’s (LSUC’s) Tribunal Office. It was terse: “The recusal motion is dismissed with reasons to follow. A signed order will follow in due course.”
This notice was received 22 days after Harry Kopyto asked Margot Blight to remove herself from the Hearing Panel and only 6 days before next Tuesday and Wednesday’s hearing dates. Reading the tea leaves, it was not easy to make the decision. It took some time.
On The Ropes
Blight was clearly on the ropes. A resignation would have meant humiliation, both for Blight and the LSUC backroom groupthinkers whose impulses she channels. For Blight, resignation would have been an admission of incompetence. It would choke her career with her law firm which continues to act against Harry’s client and witness, Mike Giftopolous. As for Blight’s prospects for using the Law Society as a stepping-stone to a judgeship, it would have been equally noxious. Let’s remember that she was brought in for a high buck from outside the ranks of voluntary Law Society judges. Her task was to clean up the mess created by two previous disintegrated panels. Let’s just say Blight has promises to keep.
For the Law Society prosecutors, the implosion of the Blight Panel would have been Disaster City. A fourth Panel? Another 5 years? Another half a million dollars? The embarrassment of having their star panel chair chewed up by none other than Kopyto?
Blight Gives Harry Grounds of Appeal
In contrast, staying on the Panel at least gave Blight a second chance. Sure, Harry now has a strong ground of appeal. But how can Blight fairly assess the evidence of a witness that she personally acted against until ten weeks ago? And what about her appearance of self-interest and conflict? The esteemed firm of Borden, Ladner, Gervais continues to act against Mike.
But, at least, for Blight it’s better than throwing the game without a fight. Depending on how resourceful she can be in preparing her reasons, Harry might not win his appeal. Keep in mind that it will be brought before a panel of five unaccountable lawyers brought in for the kill through a process that gives the word “opaque” a new dimension. Blight had nothing to lose by taking a chance and kicking the ball to a new team of players on the Appeal Panel. Not that she had much of a choice…
The other two panel members played no role in the process. Without, Blight, they would have been outplayed. They are joined to Blight by the hip and their role has always been as ladies-in-waiting to Princess Margot.
Blight’s Neutrality Mortally Wounded
Are you upset at the dismissal of Harry’s motion? After all, Blight’s decision to stay on flies in the face of every legal ruling on what constitutes appearance of bias. But don’t forget that the legal elite swims in a pool of incestuous relations. It took a massive public uproar to remove ex-Judge Dennis O’Connor who works at the same firm Blight belongs to, to replace him as head of the review of the Toronto Police use- of-force Inquiry, even though this same firm represents the Toronto Police Service. It’s better to pity Blight and her two sidekicks than be angry with them. They have just had their credibility as a disinterested panel mortally wounded. Empathize with them. They had no choice if they wanted to continue to play their role as henchmen for Big Law.
Go back and read the e-mail. Think about it. The decision is first made. The reasons will follow. When your mind is made up, the rationale can always be found later.