Monday, January 7, 2019

Interlocutory Suspension Imposed For A Host Of Issues

An interlocutory suspension had been accepted by an attorney and ordered by the Tribunal Hearing Division of the Law Society of Upper Canada in connection with allegations reported in The Star. 

  • He impregnated a 17-year-old client, a homeless Crown ward, after acting as duty counsel during her appearance at an Owen Sound courthouse and obtaining the young woman’s release.
  • He had threesome sex with that girl and another teenager at the latter’s apartment, a teenager who — according to her mother — has the intellectual capacity of a 12- to 14-year-old.
  • During a party at his office with the two teenagers, he took delivery of cocaine from one of his criminal clients, consuming almost a gram of blow within minutes, as described by another person present.
  • He propositioned and tried to seduce an 18-year-old client.
  • He took a client/girlfriend on holidays and violently assaulted her in a Florence hotel room. The woman suffered a dislocated jaw, sprained ankle and multiple bruises.

The order of suspension 

  Mr. Grant is 49 years old. He practised in Alberta and Saskatchewan until the end of 2004 when he moved to Toronto. He was called to the Ontario bar in February 2005. He practised briefly in Ontario, then practised in Calgary until August of 2010 when he returned to Ontario. In January 2011, he commenced practice as a sole practitioner in Ontario. In August 2011, he joined one small firm where he practised for about three years, and then another small firm where he stayed until June 2017. Since then, he has been practising as a sole practitioner.

Mr. Grant was treated for drug and alcohol addiction in 2006. He ceased using in 2007 after his son was born but relapsed about three or four years ago.

In June 2017, one of the members of his firm, Michael Forcier, reported to the Law Society that he had placed Mr. Grant on stress leave and suspended him from the firm. Mr. Forcier described Mr. Grant as an exceptional, respected lawyer who handled high-conflict litigation files in the firm but indicated that Mr. Grant had relapsed, was missing court and had been partying with the firm’s criminal clients, including an 18 or 19-year-old whom he had met in his capacity as duty counsel.

The Law Society closed its file after Mr. Grant advised that he was attending a rehabilitation program.

About a year later, on August 23, 2018, the Law Society authorized investigations into Mr. Grant for possible incapacity and professional misconduct/conduct unbecoming after receiving a complaint from an officer with the Owen Sound Police Service (the “OSPS”) that Mr. Grant had had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old Crown ward for whom he had acted in bail court.

Details as to the client

Mr. Grant stated that he had represented Erica as duty counsel but that when she tried to retain him some weeks later, he referred her to other counsel. Mr. Grant also stated that he did not think that Erica was 17 when he met her as she looked and acted older. Mr. Grant advised that his relationship with Erica was brief and consensual. He admitted that it resulted in the birth of a child.

The investigation revealed

 In the interview, Mr. Grant acknowledged that he is an addict. He admitted that: on a few occasions, he had missed work or court because of partying the night before; in the last two to three years he had sought emergency care for substance abuse three or four times; and the most recent hospitalization was in the last couple of months. In the interview, he distinguished between past and present use of alcohol and drugs. He said that he now drinks and uses cocaine occasionally but that he is done with drugs and tries to keep his drinking to a minimum.

On September 21, 2018, the Law Society received the police investigation materials. On review, the Society learned that there was a July 2016 incident reported involving a 19-year-old woman with intellectual challenges (pseudonym “Poppy”) who both observed and participated in sex between Mr. Grant and Erica. Poppy stated that Mr. Grant had offered them both cocaine, which they used. There was also a report of Mr. Grant showing photos of Erica in lingerie to another member of his firm. In his affidavit, Mr. Grant denied these allegations.

The police report also disclosed that in May 2017, Mr. Grant was charged with having open liquor in his car and issued a three-day licence suspension after he was found in a parking lot consuming alcohol with Erica and Poppy.

On September 24, 2018, D/S Daniels reported seeing Mr. Grant in court in an unkempt, dishevelled state. He told the investigator that Mr. Grant appeared to be high and had left his car parked at an angle, covering two spots, with the lights on. Mr. Grant denied he was high and said he was just in a hurry.

On September 26, 2018, the Law Society investigator spoke to Christopher Hutton, senior counsel for Bruce Grey Child and Family Services (“BGCFS”), and learned that two female clients (pseudonyms “Amy” and “Jessica”) had reported that Mr. Grant had been high while representing Amy and had sexually harassed Jessica.

Amy reported that Mr. Grant offered her methamphetamine just prior to her court appearance and when she refused, he took it himself before appearing in court. Another Law Society investigator contacted Amy over the lunch break at the October 2, 2018 hearing. The investigator testified that the woman denied that Mr. Grant offered or took drugs in her presence and would say only that he was “tweaky” in court.

Mr. Grant testified that about a year ago, he attended at his doctor’s office and advised he had started to use cocaine again. The doctor referred him to counselling, which he attended. He indicated he intends to attend Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings but has been unable to do so because of a busy September.

Mr. Grant refused to sign medical releases requested by the Law Society.

As to interlocutory suspension

The hearing proceeded on October 9, 2018, as scheduled. We were advised that the parties had agreed to an interim order suspending Mr. Grant’s licence to practise law immediately, and on the appropriate terms.

To support the joint submission, the Law Society relied on an affidavit sworn by an investigator outlining additional information obtained since the time of the adjournment. The investigator had spoken with Mr. Hutton to clarify information about the complaints from Amy and Jessica, and also with a former girlfriend of Mr. Grant (pseudonym “Bella”).

Mr. Hutton advised that most of Mr. Grant’s clients who received services from the BGCFS have been young women with addictions or developmental or health problems. He confirmed that Amy had told him that Mr. Grant offered her drugs and was high when he represented her. He added that after the Law Society disclosed that information to Mr. Grant, he (Mr. Grant) went to Amy’s mother’s workplace and yelled at her about Amy’s allegations.

Bella contacted the Law Society after seeing the adjournment proceedings reported in the news. She stated that Mr. Grant’s relationship with her started in 2014 when she contacted him for advice about a legal matter. She commented that his relationships all seemed to be with “misfortunate” women, who could not afford legal services, and began in the context of a legal consultation. Her on-and-off relationship with Mr. Grant ended on June 1, 2018 after he assaulted her in a hotel when they were on holiday in Italy.

Bella told the Law Society that Mr. Grant had a problem with alcohol and cocaine, that he could not control himself around cocaine and experienced paranoia. She stated he assaulted her in April 2018 when he was drunk and that on May 31, 2018, he assaulted her in a violent manner when she refused to have sex with him. Bella stated that as a result of that last assault, she suffered a dislocated jaw and a sprained ankle, and was covered in bruises. She had filed a report with the Italian police...

There are reasonable grounds for believing that Mr. Grant poses a significant risk of harm to the public and the public interest in the administration of justice:

•           He has entered into or tried to enter into sexual relationships with four vulnerable clients, one of them a minor.

•           He has been drinking and taking drugs excessively for about two years.

•           He attended hospital on three occasions in the last few years fearing he would lapse into a drug-induced coma.

•           He reportedly suffers from paranoia and anxiety and cannot control himself around cocaine.

•           He allegedly assaulted his girlfriend on May 31, 2018 after she refused to have sex with him.

•           In May 2017, he was caught drinking in a public place with Erica and Poppy and charged with having open liquor.

•           In 2016 and 2017, he had to ask colleagues to attend in court for his clients on three occasions when he had been partying the night before.

To his credit, Mr. Grant has admitted his addiction. But, regrettably, he has refused to get treatment. He has not acknowledged that he has an illness or the consequent lack of professionalism to which it is connected. Although he has sought some counselling and recognizes the need to attend Alcoholics and/or Narcotics Anonymous, he states he is too busy to do so. Bella’s report that he was paranoid and sexually assaulted her during a European vacation after he tried unsuccessfully to purchase drugs is evidence that Mr. Grant’s addiction, at times, is not something he can control.

We find that there are reasonable grounds for believing that there is a significant risk of harm to members of the public or to the public interest in the administration of justice if an interlocutory order is not made, in that Mr. Grant’s addiction has rendered him untrustworthy as a lawyer. It has impacted his ability to represent his clients and to control his actions. He cannot be trusted to provide professional service to young or vulnerable women and to comport himself with the integrity, loyalty and respect for clients that his position as a lawyer requires.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


Post a comment