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Blockade lawyer was suspended

Misappropriated funds, was disciplined

Launching class-action suit for Caledonia

Richard Brennan - GTA Bureau Chief
Toronto Star
Jul. 15, 2006. 01:00 AM

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

Hamilton lawyer John Findlay, now spearheading a class-action suit in Caledonia, was suspended for two years by the Law Society of Upper Canada for misappropriating about $85,000 of clients' money.

Findlay was "suspended from the practice of law for a period of two years," on June 30, 2001 after pleading guilty to professional misconduct in the late 1990s, the Toronto Star has learned. The money has been repaid.

"It happened quite awhile ago, it was almost 10 years ago," Findlay said, noting he ran into financial problems as a result of his daughter being diagnosed with leukemia.

"It was on a one-time thing, it was a matter of circumstances. I am not going to belittle it, it was not a small item," said Findlay, adding he tells clients of the suspension.

According to an agreed statement of facts presented at a Law Society discipline hearing, Findlay failed to deposit about $85,000 of his clients' money into their accounts. It was the result of moving money from one client's account to another to cover overdrafts in his own firm's bank account.

But the 51-year-old Caledonia resident is back on the job gathering support and money for a lawsuit against the County of Haldimand, the Ontario Provincial Police and the province as a result of the losses incurred in the ongoing native land ownership dispute.

"I have a background in class proceedings," he said in an interview.

Findlay is trying to raise about $150,000 from local residents which is to go into a fund — overseen by three trustees — to protect participants should they lose the class-action suit and have to pick up legal costs for the other side.

He has raised less than $5,000 so far. About 150 people attended a meeting Thursday night in Caledonia to discuss joining the lawsuit, which has yet to be certified by Superior Court. "I've got nothing to lose," said Jim Smith, who was prepared to hand over $100.

The lawsuit is not supported by the Caledonia Citizens Alliance, which says it has legal advice that a lawsuit of this kind is premature, given that the province is still deciding how, or if, to compensate residents.

"I didn't know that," said Ken Hewitt, a spokesperson for the alliance, when told of Findlay's suspension.

Hewitt said, if the case has such great potential, he wonders why law firms from all over aren't "chewing at the bit" for the business.

"I don't think you can have much of a lawsuit until there is some conclusion to the thing," Hewitt said, referring to the ongoing occupation of the former Douglas Creek Estates subdivision by Six Nations protesters.

The suit, filed last month, seeks damages from the County of Haldimand, OPP Commissioner Gwen Boniface and Haldimand OPP detachment commander Brian Haggith for not stopping natives from blocking Argyle St. and the Highway 6 Bypass between April 20 and May 24.

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