Harry Kopyto is back! Mark Wednesday July 9th and Thursday July 10th on your calendar with a big red marker.
Yes, you guessed it. It will be the last time when Harry’s presence will grind against the gears being turned by the three austere panelists charged by the Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) to decide if his career as an advocate should come to a screeching stop. We hope every supporter of Harry’s will be there to show the Panel that their conduct is subject to public scrutiny.
We Would Like to Say….
We would like to say that Harry has charmed this elite trio with his wit, humour and effervescence. We would like to say that he has wowed them with stories of his illustrious legal career, providing affordable access to justice, in the hundred days plus of hearings. We would like to say that they have listened to him objectively, without minds made up, open to persuasion, weighing every word….
We would like to say…. We would like to say…. We would definitely like to say these and many other things. But something holds us back. Could it be our inclination to tell the truth?
A very senior bencher, once even Treasurer (head) of the Law Society, who cannot be identified but whose name would be immediately recognized, if only because of its frequent mention in the daily media over decades, expressed his view recently to Harry that Harry’s moral character was not being assessed by “real judges”—his words. To lessen any doubt as to what he meant, that statement was accompanied by a facial grimace that was a combination of frustration and disgust.
A Comedic Farce
Of course, all three adjudicators are establishment puppets of the legal elite. They were chosen, through an opaque procedure, for their stamina, insularity and loyalty to Big Law rather then their independent judgment, in which each of them scores zero. The backroom boys wanted to make sure they would nail Kopyto. After all, two earlier panels imploded under Harry’s hammer blows. But if this Panel has kept up with Harry, with considerable difficulty, it has been at the expense of turning the hearings into a comedic farce.
Consider the following:
- The investigator who was the architect of the case against Harry is a bottom feeder bereft of any moral scruples. He admitted in his testimony that he was denounced by a judge a few short years before being scooped up by the ethically blind LSUC. An Ontario Court of Justice judge denounced him for outrageous conduct that defied standards of human decency for peeping Tom conduct. He had participated in a raid on a lesbian social gathering where the participants were half-nude when he worked as a Toronto cop.
- All the remaining oral evidence against Harry came from half a dozen lawyers worried about protecting their turf. Also testifying for the LSUC was an emotionally devastated client of Harry’s who was shamelessly exploited by the LSUC. In fact, he condemned the entire profession for denying him access to justice in the courts while on the witness stand. Meanwhile, all the 22 witnesses who testified in Harry’s favour were clients and members of the public whom the Law Society allegedly sought to protect from him! Go figure.
- Panel Chair Margot Blight, a brassy pick, was requisitioned from Canada’s largest firm to chair the three-person panel. Devious, full of hubris and overconfident, she conducted the hearings virtually ignoring the other panel members, bullying Harry during his testimony with acrimony if not with venom, placing an arbitrary deadline on his personal evidence and blocking him from fully cross-examining the LSUC’s witnesses. She continuously made summary judgments and dismissed Harry’s evidence as he presented it. She constantly harassed Harry, bizarrely invited Harry to bring a motion to have her declared biased, and tried to mitigate one of her more severe meltdowns with a vapid apology which Harry graciously (but naively) accepted. She was, in her best moments, a caricature of a real judge without any need to exercise finesse needed to hide her prejudgment.
- Blight also shamelessly channeled the Law Society prosecutors’ attack against Harry, who pictured him as demonic, out of control and “ungovernable”. Unabashedly, she used the prosecutors as her personal research assistants and advisors. Not even a pretence of fairness.
Caught in a Tangled Web of Bias and Conflict
Ultimately, what highlight the hearings as a charade was Blight’s decision to assess and weigh the evidence of one of Harry’s key witnesses who was litigating against her own client in her day job as a lawyer. She made a half-hearted attempt to concoct an image of distance from Harry’s client-witness by passing on the file to a colleague in her firm, despite admitting she had a financial interest in having her firm hang on to the file. This embroiled her further in a tangled web of bias and conflict.
Of course, Harry’s motion to have Blight recuse herself was rejected….by Blight acting as a judge of herself! She then awarded the Law Society $13,000 in costs for Harry’s insolence in challenging her. That was on top of $44,000 in costs orders that this panel (not counting an award for $10,000 made by an earlier panel) awarded against Harry for prior failed motions he brought to defend himself. The lesson? If you want to challenge the LSUC’s decisions, be prepared to have them judge their own conduct and charge you lots of money for their trouble.
The cost of justice is high in the hallowed halls of Osgoode Hall. You have to be rich to defend yourself before Big Law.
A Kangaroo Court
Harry’s five-year saga has exposed the insular, sanctimonious, cynical, manipulative world that the legal power structure has crafted to deal with those who have the moral courage to challenge them, even when their right to earn a living hangs in the balance.
What happens in the Law Society’s kangaroo court is a mirror image of what happens in society. The bottom feeders who do the dirty work for the Law Society are counterparts, albeit deflected through a judicial prism, of the sycophants in society at large who protect the 1% who sit on top of the heap against the 99% who are sat on.
It’s a Class Struggle
One vignette tells it all. During the hearing, Harry testified that he only represents workers in his labour law cases. Blight responded by admitting she only represents employers in her labour law cases. But this of course (ha! ha!), has absolutely no impact on her approach to judging Harry, right? Right? Right?
Harry calls it the class struggle. It finds a clear reflection in the judicial world.
On July 9th and 10th, starting at 9:30 a.m., Harry will be facing down his judges in the Law Society’s Star Chamber located in the Museum Room at Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto, for the last time. It’s his turn to tell it like it is. Don’t expect him to ask for mercy. Sparks will fly.
Which Side are You on?
You also have the opportunity to tell the world which side you are on. On these final days of hearings, show your solidarity with Harry, who has spent 40 years advocating for us, as he makes his final submissions. Hundreds of observers have attended the hearings over the last five years to support Harry. That is because Harry’s life has been dedicated to fight for those without power and wealth against those with both.
Take a stand. Let the panel know you are still there watching their deliberations, holding them accountable, checking their excesses. Be a witness to their charade. Show them Harry is not alone.