So what is Harry up to? Has he given up? Is he a done deal? Is Harry Kopyto gone, gone, gone? That may be wishful thinking from the Law Society spinmeisters. But if that is what they are thinking, they know diddly-squat about Harry.
True, his hair is now more white than gray. And yes—he’s been around the block a few times. Still, don’t call the doctor—it’s not code blue yet. The brio is still there. The passion; The hatred of injustice; The joy of struggle: not a scintilla lost.
Harry has already slapped a Notice of Appeal on the desk of the Law Society apparatchiki who culled his nemesis, Margot Blight, from her Bay Street digs to pound a dagger into his professional heart.
The earth didn’t shake when her apologia in defence of the lawyers’ kleptocratic price-fixing monopoly was released February 3, 2015. But there were some tremors.
One monitoring agency reported Blight’s decision to be among the most accessed by the legal profession on the net. On April 19, 2015, the Toronto Star published a major page-four piece describing Harry’s struggle for affordable justice to its half million subscribers. And at least one lawyer volunteered to fight Harry’s appeal pro bono. Not bad for someone the Law Society has been trying to marginalize for 25 years.
Harry’s appeal is in the process of being “perfected”. It will be heard by a panel of five lawyers appointed by the mandarins that run the Law Society. We’ll keep you posted on the date.
Harry’s appeal advances two grounds. One is based on Blight’s personal bias. Kopyto had asked her to step aside when one of his witnesses turned out to be someone who she was fighting in court because he was suing her client. She refused to resign. You got it, Pontiac! Blight ended up sitting in judgment of the evidence of one of Harry’s key witnesses during his Law Society hearing that Blight had already vilified in her alternate life as a lawyer.
Instead of recusing herself on the basis of a patent conflict of interest, Blight acted like the clientalist bottom-feeder she is. (Remember that Blight was brought in to nail Kopyto after two failed panels refused to do the dirty work.) With more vile than guile, Blight claimed to have built a “firewall” between herself and the other lawyer in her firm that she passed the case on to.
Never has there been a precedent of a judge trying to create such a “cordon sanitiare” to create an illusion of impartiality. And Blight even admitted that she retained a financial interest in the ongoing litigation! Oy vey! Let’s see how Blight dines out on that one before the Appeal Panel…
The other appeal ground is based on Blight’s attack on Harry’s character for representing clients who couldn’t afford lawyers. Without legal representation, Harry’s clients would have been tasty morsels for the pod of lawyers who would eat them up alive in court. Kopyto argues that refusing to help his clients offended his freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Charter of Rights. How can helping someone for free access the courts be evidence of “poor character”?
Most important, Harry has not given up his existential struggle to overturn By-law 4 of the Law Society’s regulations adopted provincially in 2007. This by-law placed paralegal vassals under the control of competing, politically influential lawyers. Kopyto was dragged before the Blight Star Chamber on his application to be grandparented as a paralegal precisely because of this by-law. Kopyto’s efforts to overturn By-law 4 was rejected when Harry brought a Divisional Court motion to block the Law Society’s “good character” hearing. That decision was subsequently upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Kopyto had argued that affordable access to justice was denied when lawyers took charge over their more affordable paralegal competitors and pared their scope of practice to the bone. Harry protested that the by-law gave the fox the keys to the chicken coop. But Harry had no binding legal precedent to back him.
Now he does. In October, 2014, the Supreme Court, which long bemoaned the judicial system as the preserve of the moneyed, overturned a British Columbia law imposing hearing fees on litigants as unconstitutional. This decision dramatically reinforced affordable access to the courts as a constitutional right. It casts Harry’s challenge to By-law 4 in a new light. It breathes new life into Harry’s legal argument. Harry is drafting a challenge to By-law 4 in the Ontario Superior Court based on this changed legal architecture.
Of course, the Law Society is fed up to its back teeth with Harry’s exposure of its buffo farce which includes big talk (but little action) about affordable access to justice. But they will have some hard kernels to chew on with his current litigation. They better be careful they don’t choke.
And one more point. Did we forget to mention that Harry has been ordered to pay $364,509.59 in costs by Blight for applying to be grandparented as a paralegal on top of the $70,000 already ordered? It is a high price to pay to defend your principles. However, Harry has no second thoughts when it comes to doing what is needed to bring real justice into the courtrooms in this country.
In the meantime, we regret that there has been a hiatus in our publishing schedule. It allowed Harry to catch his breath. However, we continue to publish installments of a modified version of Harry’s submissions to the Blight Panel that judged his character that he presented on July 9 and 10, 2014. Read them carefully. They are an epic portrayal of rays of insight penetrating the bleak recess of hypocritical self-delusion. The next installment will be posted here in the near future. Enjoy.