Firebrand former lawyer spars at reinstatement hearing

He noted that most lawyers are disbarred for sins such as theft, incompetent practice or breach of trust. "In this case, a lawyer was disbarred for being honest," Mr. Clark said…Even Mr. Clark's sporadic apologies yesterday were laced with contempt. "May I apologize for the manner of my delivery," he said at one point. "It's just that this whole process is so profoundly obscene."

The Globe and Mail
October 22, 2003

Firebrand former lawyer spars at reinstatement hearing
Kirk Makin

TORONTO — An Ontario lawyers' disciplinary panel had barely sat down yesterday when it was blasted for being "willfully blind" to a continuing policy of genocide against native Indians.

Bruce Clark — firebrand lawyer, radical friend of aboriginals and raging scourge of the legal system — was back in town.

When last heard from in 1999, Mr. Clark was disbarred after criminal convictions for contempt of court — related to his repeated raising of the genocide argument — and assaulting a police officer in British Columbia during an aboriginal uprising.

Yesterday, the 59-year-old man asked the Law Society of Upper Canada to let him back into the fold — and pledged not to raise the genocide issue again if he is reinstated.

"I want to practice law so that I can get off welfare," Mr. Clark said.

He is arguing that his disbarment is invalid because the Law Society did not consider his defence at the time. However, he was anything but contrite as he faced the three panel members who will decide his fate. Mr. Clark's submissions were occasionally deft, invariably passionate and often breathtakingly rude. He taunted the panel and virtually commandeered the hearing room, shouting down law society lawyer Maureen Helt and the panel if they tried to protest.

"Genuinely and truly, you have utterly misconceived the point of this proceeding," Mr. Clark lectured panel chair Alan Silverstein in a typical exchange.

"All procedural requirements will be followed, Mr. Clark," Mr. Silverstein replied grimly.

"That would be such a pleasant surprise," Mr. Clark shot back.

"We don't need snide comments," Mr. Silverstein said, visibly seething.

Mr. Clark has battled for aboriginal rights since 1971, including a long-running Ontario land claims case known as Bear Island and a volatile 1995 standoff at Gustafson Lake in B.C.

No less a figure than former Chief Justice Antonio Lamer has denounced his invective, once telling Mr. Clark he was "a disgrace to the bar."

To the law society, the Clark case is a unique test. Can obsessive, ill-mannered conduct be enough to short-circuit a career? Does muting Mr. Clark's voice simply lend credence to his accusations against the legal establishment?

Mr. Clark pointed out yet another distinguishing characteristic of his case yesterday. He noted that most lawyers are disbarred for sins such as theft, incompetent practice or breach of trust. "In this case, a lawyer was disbarred for being honest," Mr. Clark said.

However, Ms. Helt insisted that he was disbarred not for his beliefs, but because his convictions amounted to professional misconduct. Disbarments are generally meant to be permanent, she added.

Even Mr. Clark's sporadic apologies yesterday were laced with contempt. "May I apologize for the manner of my delivery," he said at one point. "It's just that this whole process is so profoundly obscene."

Mr. Clark also demanded an adjournment to recover from being "harassed" by Mr. Silverstein. Later, he pointedly left the hearing room during Ms. Helt's closing submissions. At the root of Mr. Clark's quest is his claim that no court has ever properly addressed a 300-year-old British proclamation that he says is capable of proving that Indian land was stolen.

This "blatant judicial chicanery" proves that judges at every level have furthered the genocide of aboriginal people, he said.

Mr. Clark accused the law society of twisting its rules to drum him out simply because he had refused to let "imperial" judges sanctify the theft of native land.

The panel reserved judgment late in the day on the application.


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Risks: Credence goods: taking advantage of the innocents, Contempt of court, Disbarred, Honesty, Professional misconduct, Canada, 20031022 Firebrand former

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