The ice that had formed on the austere gray masonry of Osgoode Hall’s exterior walls in downtown Toronto on December 2, 2016 never got as cold as the reception Harry Kopyto received from the three judges ensconced on their elevated perch as they peered down in studied silence at Harry Kopyto as he argued his judicial review of the Law Society’s Appeal Panel. Recall that the Law Society Appeal Panel confirmed the decision of the Law Society Hearing Panel, led by Margot Blight, that had refused to allow Harry the right to work as a legal advocate after 41 years of doing so because of his alleged poor character. Why, you ask, such frosty treatment from these supposed judicial guardians of procedural fairness? Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
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
Below is the second last installation of an adapted version of the submissions made by Harry Kopyto on July 9, 2015 before to the Law Society Hearing Panel chaired by Margot Blight which ruled that Harry Kopyto lacked the good character needed to practice as a legal advocate.
Harry has appealed her decision, which was upheld by a Law Society Appeal Panel, to the Divisional Court of Ontario. A date for the hearing of Harry’s appeal should be available shortly.
The challenge before you Read the rest of this entry »
Silence may be golden; sometimes, it is not.
Take for example, the decision of the Appeal Division of the Law Society Tribunal that was released January 27th this year. You’ve heard this story many times before so here’s the Readers’ Digest version. Harry Kopyto was fighting for his professional life as a paralegal. He had a lengthy hearing before a Hearing Panel chaired by S. Margot Blight. During the hearing, she was asked to recuse herself because of an appearance of bias and a financial conflict of interest. She had been representing, in her day job, the employer of a witness called by Harry in his own defence before her. The witness was suing the employer. The witness was going to testify about Harry volunteering his services in that case and the fine work he did for him. Ms. Blight passed the file on to a colleague of hers in her same firm. That meant that the witness was going to be testifying before her about Harry while the witness was also suing her firm’s client. It also meant that Ms. Blight retained a financial interest in the defence and outcome of Harry’s witness’ case. In fact, speaking of the financial arrangements between her firm and its client being sued by the witness, Ms. Blight stated in paragraph 35:
The Panel rejects the candidate’s suggestions that these financial arrangements should be disclosed; they are privileged. It is nonetheless fair to assume that the chairperson has a financial interest of some kind.
The argument that Ms. Blight should resign from hearing Harry’s case because of this conflict and let the other two adjudicators continue without her was advanced vociferously by Harry in both his legal factum as well as in his oral submissions to the five-person Appeal Panel. So how did the Appeal Panel deal with it? Read the rest of this entry »
Let’s start by asking you a question. What do the following five people have in common?
One of them is a no-nonsense lawyer often acting for other lawyers in sensitive disputes among partners in Bay Street law firms. She is highly regarded as a “strategic” thinker. She has senior status as a Law Society adjudicator. Another is an aggressive businessman. He is a horse breeder (no kidding) and Governor of the Royal Ontario Agricultural Winter Fair. A third is an ex-criminal prosecutor, now a partner in a major Bay Street law firm—the epitome of happiness outside the gates of heaven for a certain category of lawyers. The fourth one is an ex-cop (the Toronto Police Service as well as the O.P.P.) and is now cashing in on his connections as a hard-driving paralegal who can pull strings. The last is a member of a firm that has a full nelson on the market in Workplace Safety and Insurance appeals. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the Ontario Bar Association, a group that lobbied successfully for the takeover of paralegals by the Law Society.
Do You Want to Guess the Outcome?
So, what do all these esteemed personages of standing have in common? Read the rest of this entry »