The Law Society of Upper Canada has made a finding of professional misconduct against a Toronto lawyer who accused several members of the justice system, including judges and government officials, of conspiracy.
“Ms. Townley-Smith has not introduced any evidence to support any of her allegations,” wrote Bencher Ross Murray of lawyer Kimberly Townley-Smith. “She has shown complete contempt for and a total disregard for the entire judicial process.”
Writing on behalf of a three-member hearing panel, Murray determined Townley-Smith engaged in professional misconduct for failing to maintain the integrity of the profession, failing to encourage respect for the administration of justice, and offering evidence and opinions while acting as an advocate.
The panel also found she failed to treat the court with fairness, courtesy, and respect; failed to act in good faith; and failed to co-operate with and respond to the law society.
According to the panel’s decision in the matter, Townley-Smith repeatedly sought to litigate issues of alleged conspiracy and corruption against Superior Court judges in Toronto, court staff, the Ministry of the Attorney General, a Manitoba judge, and several lawyers.
It found she sought to have opposing counsel and judges removed from a lawsuit she was involved in several years ago based on their alleged misdeeds that included improper conduct and criminality.
But a blog maintained by someone who claims to be Townley-Smith maintains the allegations have merit and that the law society has been abusive towards her.
“Although I believe the Law Society’s conduct in my case has been unusually bad due to its particular context, the overall impression I have is that the types of failures that have occurred here — botched investigations, improper personal interests of Law Society staff and Benchers, proceedings commenced to protect connected members of the legal establishment not the public — are not uncommon,” the blog at ktsandthelawsociety.blogspot.ca alleges.
The LSUC decision notes the issues arose about six years ago when Townley-Smith began representing Kim Baryluk in a copyright dispute involving the singer’s Manitoba folk band, the Wyrd Sisters.
Baryluk claimed film giant Warner Bros. had used a similar name, the Weird Sisters, in the movie
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Following a $140,000 cost award in favour of Warner Bros., Townley-Smith filed a lawsuit on behalf of Baryluk against Superior Court justices Colin Campbell and John Wilkins, as well as Master Ronald Dash. All of them had been involved in the Warner Bros. matter at some point.
The lawsuit claimed the judges had committed fraud and conspiracy against Townley-Smith’s client. The case was unsuccessful and resulted in a $100,000 costs award to be split between Baryluk and Townley-Smith.
Following several rulings against her, Baryluk sued Townley-Smith. Baryluk claimed she never consented to the litigation against the judges.
She also maintained she wasn’t aware of other actions commenced by Townley-Smith that made similar allegations of conspiracy and corruption.
According to Baryluk v. Townley-Smith, the singer claimed general damages for negligence, breach of contract, breach of trust, and breach of fiduciary duty in the amount of $1 million.
She also sought $500,000 in special damages against Townley-Smith for negligence and an additional $500,000 in punitive damages.
Baryluk has since written letters to the judges apologizing for the lawsuit initiated by Townley-Smith. But Townley-Smith maintains she had Baryluk’s consent.
In response to Baryluk’s lawsuit, in fact, Townley-Smith filed a counterclaim and statement of defence. In it, she sought $750,000 in general damages, $1 million in punitive damages and $500,000 in additional damages.
The court, however, issued an order dismissing Baryluk’s case on Feb. 6, 2012. According to the order, the court dismissed the action for delay under Rule 48.14. The court has dismissed Townley-Smith’s counterclaim as well.
In the meantime, Townley-Smith also launched an ongoing lawsuit against the law society over claims the regulator mishandled her case.
While Townley-Smith declined an interview, the blog maintains she no longer wishes to practise law.
“If the Law Society of Upper Canada is going to disbar someone for having the courage to stand up when a judge does something wrong, and if I am going to lose my career for trying to do the right thing, then forget duty, integrity, and truth.
The Law Society does not stand for anything it says it stands for, lawyers do not mean what they say, and I don’t want to be one,” reads one entry posted last year.
The law society suspended Townley-Smith on an interlocutory basis in June 2010. She didn’t appear in person at the hearing last year to respond to the allegations against her.
The law society now will set a date to hear submissions on penalty. “The hearing panel is satisfied that there is clear and cogent evidence to support findings of professional misconduct with respect to all of the particulars set out in the notice of application,” wrote Murray.
Still, Townley-Smith may not be too upset, according to the blog. “If the price of continued admission to the Bar is that I have to stand by and be silent while judges and lawyers rip up the law, slip into crime, and hurt people in the public that they are supposed to serve, and expect to get away with it because they can and because they are connected, then here.
Take my license. You can have it. I don’t want it anymore,” reads another blog post from last year.
For more, see "Lawyer's conspiracy allegations against three judges 'hurtful': court official" and "Clients sues counsel for suing judges."