High hopes that a mediated resolution of the Law Society’s trial of Harry Kopyto’s character would take place have been dashed on the craggy rocks of the Law Society’s intransigence. Three days of hearings―mostly of evidence from Harry’s own character witnesses―are scheduled at Osgoode Hall on Monday February 10th, Thursday February 13th and Tuesday February 18th. Everyone is urged to attend.
The last two hearing dates held in November, 2013 saw several of Harry’s clients give evidence that shattered the Society’s false portrayal of Harry as self-interested. Each witness gave testimony that hammered home Harry’s commitment to his clients’ interests.
Readers should recall the crisis that now looms over the hearing. On October 15th, Panel Chair Margot Blight rebuffed an effort by Harry to remove her from the three-person panel judging his character. The grounds for his request? Blight represented an employer of one of his witnesses, Mike Giftopoulos, who is also a client of Harry’s. Harry’s allegations of perception of bias and conflict of interest (Blight’s firm removed her from the Giftopoulos file last August but assigned a colleague of Blight’s to replace her) couldn’t be stronger.
Yet now, almost 4 months after her refusal to resign from the Panel and over 5 months after Harry raised the issue in August when Blight was still acting against Giftopoulos, she still has to provide an explanation for her outrageous decision. It was within that context that Blight pleaded with the two Law Society prosecutors to mediate with Harry last November.
Venomous Hatred of Harry
Late last year, Harry’s announcement that he planned to close his paralegal practice and retire made mediation logical. Why should the LSUC spend more money and energy on hearings to stop Harry from doing what he had already decided not to do? But venomous hatred of Harry―the Law Society’s “worst nightmare” as he describes himself―trumps logic in the twisted thinking of the LSUC’s higher-ups. Thus, despite the efforts of Bencher Clay Ruby to mediate a settlement, the effort failed miserably.
LSUC Refuses to Charge Harry in a Real Court
The hearings continue. Blight’s hopes that mediation would resolve her dilemma have been sabotaged by higher-ups in the LSUC. She will now be forced to write reasons for her refusal to resign from the panel, a decision that will give Harry a powerful ground of appeal.
Harry still plans to help indigent clients in higher court cases who can’t afford lawyers’ fees. He pledged that he would continue to do so, even after closing his paralegal practice, in the hope that the LSUC would prosecute him before a “real” judge and a “real” court. This would give him an opportunity to bring a constitutional challenge to the lawyers’ monopoly over the provision of legal services. The Law Society over the last 10 years has refused to prosecute him for unauthorized practice despite overwhelming evidence.
The Saga Continues
The saga continues. Margot Blight’s neutrality is hopelessly discredited. The Law Society’s blind hatred of Harry has pushed it well beyond 100 days of hearings and a million dollars of expenses. All of this to exclude one person from a profession from which he has already decided to retire. Could a mad playwright concoct a more bizarre plot line?
Harry continues his battle in the Museum Room, Osgoode Hall, Queen and University Avenue in downtown Toronto. He is no longer defending his right to work. He is now defending his character. It is of the utmost urgency that friends of real legal justice be present as witnesses to the Law Society’s punitive and artificial contrivance of an impartial hearing. Join him on February 10th, 13th and 18, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.
Support Harry. Be there.