Tempers Flare At Canadian Law Firm After Client Conviction

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Tempers flared at a venerable Toronto law firm – Pinkofskys – when lawyer Benjamin Moss arrived back from court on May, 14, 2004, to announce that a client, Carlington McKenzie, had just been convicted of a vicious, armed home invasion.

Mr. McKenzie had not testified in his own defence – a controversial strategy that did not sit well at a powerhouse firm legendary for its aggressive tactics and enviable record of success.

In a hallway confrontation with senior colleagues and at a postconviction meeting later that afternoon, a beleaguered Mr. Moss was angrily accused of laziness and damaging his client’s defence.

“It made no sense whatsoever, and it was patently obvious that he was too lazy to have prepared [Mr. McKenzie] to testify,” Reid Rusonic, senior managing partner at Pinkofskys, said later in a sworn statement to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The dispute heated up still more after Mr. McKenzie elected to appeal his conviction based partly on an allegation that Mr. Moss improperly barred him from testifying.

In an unusual 2-1 ruling earlier this month that exposes the sort of internal law firm machinations rarely seen in public, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled against Mr. McKenzie, saying, “It is apparent that one or more of [the lawyers] are deliberately misleading the court.”

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