Re: Sanfilippo buys Judiciary appointment for $1,800

Today’s rant, for lack of a better word, is based upon this article that I perused earlier this morning:

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/08/01/this-lawyer-gave-the-liberals-more-than-1800-then-he-became-a-judge.html

This article is ridiculous.  It’s a smear.  I’m sorry but I just don’t believe it.  It is, in all likelihood, FAKE NEWS.

Now I have no doubt that Andrew Sanfilippo gave $1,878.87 to the Liberal Party.  And I have no doubt that Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has appointed Sanfilippo to the bench.  Those are the facts.  My issue is with the innuendo that the Star inserts into their article to suggest to the reader that the donation and the appointment are tied to one another.

This suggestion, completely unfounded, diminishes the reputation of our provincial judiciary.  This is not a good thing.  People that appear before judges are typically at an important juncture in their lives.  Their family unit has broken down.  Their children have been removed from their care.  They are losing their liberty.  They have been disabled and need disputed insurance coverage to support themselves.  It’s important that when these people appear in front of our judges that they have confidence in knowing that there is an intelligent, hard working, and reputable person that is going to make the decision that will have such a great impact on their lives.  What the Toronto Star has done here is created anxiety in those who will appear before Justice Sanfilippo.  The Star, by their very allegation, has eroded the public confidence in the judiciary.  If they don’t like a decision – then it becomes all too easy to believe that the judge bought his position.  Why respect a decision-maker of someone who bought their position for $1800?  It breaks down the rule of law and erodes the public confidence in the administration of law.

I can tell you that I have litigated against O’Donnell Robertson and Sanfilippo.  They are tough.  I would describe them as a hardened Toronto insurance defence firm.   When you do insurance defence you have insurance companies as your client.  You get a steady stream of files in exchange for working at a reduced hourly rate.  In order to make up for the reduced rate the lawyers are typically required to work longer hours in order to generate a solid revenue stream.  I would expect that Mr. Sanfillippo billed about 1800 hours a year.  That 150 per month.  To bill 150 hours per month you have to work 50-60 hours per week.  Mr. Sanfilippo took time away from his family, from his friends and his hobbies and invested it in his career.  For 32 years.  That’s probably about how old the reporter was on this story. Just so we’re clear here, Mr. Sanfilippo was working his ass off in an articling position while this reporter was still in diapers.  And that is why he got appointed to the bench.  It had nothing to do with a paltry $1800.

The star also failed to mention Mr. Sanfilippo’s three post-graduate degrees, the work that he did as a trustee for Fanconi Canada (to find a cure for Falcon anemia) or the fact that his peers rated him as one of the top 40 insurance lawyers in Canada.  There is no story in “Hard working and well educated lawyer gets appointed to the bench.” They took the $1800 donation and judicial appointment and tried to sell some newspapers.  It’s a farce and a joke and I’m calling them out.  Show me a smoking gun.  Show me an email, or a witness statement, really any shred of evidence that links the $1800 to his appointment.  Sanfilippo has built his reputation on honesty, integrity, hard work and toughness.  I will not stand by and let the Star disparage that reputation for a few measly clicks.

I have no relationship with this firm, have received nothing for writing this blog, and will never appear in front of Justice Sanfilippo.  My only goal here is to raise awareness, protect both the administration of justice and the reputation of a fellow barrister who has done absolutely nothing wrong here.

Congratulations on your well-deserved appointment Justice Sanfilippo, thank-you for your years of service to your community and like Mother Theresa always says – “Don’t let the bastards get to you.”