Every so often, an outcry over the crisis in affordable court representation breaks out in the media, usually initiated by a judge’s pronouncements or a released report. For a few days, the newspapers publish screaming headlines and angry denouncements side by side with promises of reforms by concerned authorities. And then, just as quickly as the tumult arose, the issue becomes relegated to back pages and occasional editorials before fading into black.
Harry Kopyto will be appearing before three judges in the Divisional Court at 10:00 a.m. in courtroom 3 at Osgoode Hall (northeast corner of University Ave. and Queen St. W. in Toronto) on Friday December 2, 2016.
Kopyto has been shafted by a Law Society Panel that refused him the right to work as a paralegal after 25 years of doing so on the basis of his allegedly “poor” character. The Chair of the Panel has refused to resign despite the fact that she was the lawyer for the employer in a legal action for discrimination in the workplace brought by a key character witness that Harry called to testify at his hearing.
Your presence at this hearing is critical in order to ensure that Harry gets a fair hearing.
From time to time, the Divisional Court has been known to restrain the Law Society from its more abusive and clearly biased decisions. Harry’s case may be one of those instances in which the Divisional Court may be won over to his side. However, it will not happen unless members of the public attend the hearing to ensure that the three judges of the Divisional Court make a just decision.
Harry has fought for us for decades. Now is the time for us to be there for him.
When Harry steps into the Divisional Court at Osgoode Hall in downtown Toronto at 10:00 a.m. on Friday December 2, 2016, there will be two issues he will lay out before the three venerable Judges. His professional fate will be determined by their response.
The first argument Harry will raise is that the Chair of the Law Society Panel that decided that he did not have the good character to work as a legal advocate, Margot Blight, appeared to be biased. How will he prove this? Read the rest of this entry »
In this post you’ll find the final installment of an adapted version of Harry Kopyto’s address to the three-person Law Society of Upper Canada Panel made on July 9, 2015. The Panel concluded that he lacked the good character needed to continue to work as a legal advocate. A serialized version of the balance of his submissions which continued on July 10, 2015 will be posted in due course.
The decision is presently under appeal in the Divisional Court of Ontario scheduled to be heard at Osgoode Hall on Friday December 2, 2016. See here for more details.
Why Do I Do What I Do?
Honourable members of the Panel, I ask you to say, “Yes, Harry, you are imperfect. But Lewis, you were better off with Harry representing you. Velma, you were better off with Harry representing you.” Who was the fellow in the wheelchair who had testified thanking me for my help? Tell him also: “You were better off with Harry.”
Go through the entire list of my clients who appeared as witnesses. Twenty-two clients. Tell me which clients were not better off with me than without me. Did I succeed in every case? Does anybody succeed in every case? Did I wow the courts? Does everybody wow the courts? Is every case winnable? But win or lose, did I try?
Why do I do what I do? Why is my practice what it is? Why did I even go into law? I wasn’t one of those guys in law school wearing a school tie from the University of Western Ontario whose father was an insurance company or bank executive and who knew everybody in his law school classroom since they graduated with their Masters of Business Administration degrees after going to the same private schools. I was the little guy off in a corner. I was the one who didn’t quite know what I was doing there…
My Practice Is a Weapon For Social Change
But I had an idea. Read the rest of this entry »
The Divisional Court has just set December 2, 2016 as the hearing date for Harry’s appeal from the decision of the Law Society Appeal Tribunal refusing to allow him to work as a legal advocate. The hearing will take place at 10:00 a.m. at Osgoode Hall on the northeast corner of Queen Street and University Avenue in Toronto. Mark this date in your calendar. All those who value affordable access to justice should mobilize for this hearing to support Harry. More details to follow.
Harry Kopyto Defence Committee
A legal battle is currently being waged by three hundred lawyers employed by Legal Aid Ontario to provide legal services in Legal Aid clinics throughout the province to people unable to afford lawyers. They are campaigning for the right to organize a union, a right that crown prosecutors, who are paid much better than the Legal Aid lawyers, already have. By and large, these lawyers are disproportionately female and many come from minority communities.
The article (click here) reports on the struggle for pay equity and Charter rights being waged by these underpaid and over-utilized workers in the legal profession.
Be sure to also watch the video of Clay Ruby addressing Legal Aid Ontario (click here), which makes clear that Ontario’s Legal Aid system is a class system that discriminates against the poor.
The Harry Kopyto Defence Committee wishes to circulate the following article, The high cost of justice puts it out of reach for many, by Julias H. Grey, a Montreal lawyer well known for his advocacy of human rights and civil liberties. This article provides a concise outline of the transformation of Canada’s judicial system into an institution that denies the vast majority of Canadians access to justice while becoming an increasingly exclusive domain for the wealthy elites. Read the rest of this entry »