(Next hearing: Tuesday March 4th @ 9:30 AM in the Museum room at Osgoode Hall)
Kopyto’s last witness in his good character hearing next Tuesday (March 4th) will be a client of Harry’s named Mike. He will testify about how he is a victim of discrimination by his employer and about how Harry is doing a good job representing him in a human rights case.
Mike is a teacher. He had a heart ailment that required him to take time off from his teaching job in a high school in Hamilton. Mike got better and his doctor cleared him to return to full-time work. But the Roman Catholic School Board insisted that he could only come back and work part-time. The Board did not have medical grounds for doing so. They even threatened to call the police to remove him from the school when he continued to work one afternoon. So Mike filed a human rights complaint alleging discrimination against him because of his disability.
One in a Million Coincidence
Now it gets interesting.
The school board hired a lawyer. In one of those one-in-a-million coincidences, that lawyer’s name was Margot Blight. The same Margot Blight that is the Chair of the three-person Panel judging Harry’s character. The same Margot Blight that Mike will have to testify before at Harry’s character hearing next Tuesday. The same Margot Blight who was the architect of the school board’s defence against Mike in his human rights complaint. The same Margot Blight that authored the false allegations contained in the documents that Mike will refer to while he is in the witness stand to prove the discrimination against him at the hearing next Tuesday.
There is more.
When Harry was hired by Mike to represent him last August, Harry wrote Margot Blight right away so that she would know about the conflict. Blight immediately got off the case. She knew she would lose her credibility as a judge of Harry’s character while at the same time opposing Harry in Mike’s human rights case. But Blight never referred the Board to an independent outside firm. Instead, she directed the Board to a colleague of hers down the hall in the same firm she worked in, thereby creating a conflict of interest. But then Mike volunteered to be a witness to Harry’s character. So next Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. in the Museum Room at Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto, Mike will be testifying about what a great job Harry is doing fighting Blight’s former client now represented by Blight’s colleague before Blight herself. Can you believe it?
Where are the Reasons, Ms. Blight?
Harry brought a motion on February 18, 2014 during his last appearance before Blight at his good character hearing. Harry asked Blight to give written reasons for continuing to sit on the Panel judging him. Harry had protested Blight’s decision to remain on the Panel last October by bringing a motion for her to recuse herself on grounds of conflict of interest and appearance of bias. Blight denied the motion. However, almost five months later, she still has not given reasons for doing so. Harry wanted those reasons before Mike testified next Tuesday. Naturally, Mike is apprehensive about testifying before the former lawyer for his employer concerning the same matters that she was professionally engaged in. After all, Blight has prior knowledge from her client and was the architect of the school board’s legal defence against Mike’s charge of discrimination. Blight bizarrely refused the motion. She said that she doesn’t talk about the case with her colleague. She said Mike has no rights since he is only a witness. And, believe it or not, she is now punishing Harry, at the urging of the Law Society’s prosecution counsel, by having him pay the legal costs for his failed motion to have her give her reasons before Mike testifies.
Silence was Deafening
However, there were two things Blight never mentioned. She never said a word about why her prior knowledge and involvement in the very same matter Mike is testifying about wouldn’t result in an appearance of bias. And she never mentioned why her firm’s ongoing representation of Mike’s employer and opposition to Mike’s human rights complaint didn’t result in a conflict of interest. Blight never said a word about any of these things when she ruled against Harry on his motion. The silence was deafening. So much for fairness! So much for having an unbiased Judge! So much for Harry’s right to have a Panel evaluate his witnesses with no interest in the outcome!
In a real court with a real judge, none of this could happen. The Law Society hearings are a rigged caricature of a court. Blight was chosen for the role of judge to fulfill a mission―get Kopyto! It does not include such niceties as fairness, acknowledging the rights of witnesses, independence and impartiality. The prosecutors are cued to chime in to her in this mise en scene.
What Happened to Mediation
Many readers have asked what happened to mediation which the Law Society agreed to under pressure from Blight as a shortcut to put her out of her difficult position. But when Harry mentioned at the hearing that the Law Society never responded to the mediator, he was severely reprimanded and hushed up for merely mentioning the topic. Autocratic control, blindness to reality and pretence of fairness are hallmarks of the Law Society’s pseudocourt.
Blight is kaput. She puts up a good front but she is totally tied up in knots with Harry’s witness. Deep inside, she is undoubtedly aware of the transparency of the ruse that she is engaged in. It is scarcely masked by her weak smile and pretence of normalcy. It is hard not to feel pity for her seeing her twisting in the wind to avoid the catastrophe of recusing herself and tossing a hundred hearing days (as well as her reputation as a case management maven) into a garbage can.
This spectacle of conflict and bias is stranger than fiction. But it is real, and it will all be played out in the bizarre world of the Law Society next Tuesday (March 4th @ 9:30AM) as Harry Kopyto calls three witnesses with Mike being his last witness.
Let the Panel know that they are being watched. Let them know that their manoeuvres are transparent. Support Harry who has now fought them for five years so that he could continue giving affordable legal help to those in need. Support a good man against the shenanigans of his powerful opponents.
The Emperor has no clothes. Be there.
(Tuesday March 4th @ 9:30 AM in the Museum room at Osgoode Hall)