On Friday, March 5, 2021, the Honourable Justice Michael J. Lema at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta accepted as evidence, and played for all parties in a civil case, a video of Dr. Julie Macfarlane introducing 2018 Ontario Civil Liberties Award (OCLA) recipient Donald Best. Julie discusses Donald's experience as a self-represented litigant, his efforts for access to justice advocacy, and the work of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project.
Many lawyers, the judge, court staff, and many litigants and witnesses saw and heard this video during the video hearing. All the parties were served with copies of Dr. Macfarlane’s and Mr. Best’s OCLA video speeches. Mr. Best, a witness for the Plaintiff in this case, commented on what happened after the court played the video: "It is fair to say that Prof. Macfarlane's statements about corruption in the legal profession and the plight of self-represented persons in our courts first shocked and then deeply moved all at the hearing. No one spoke for some time after the video ended, and then one of the lawyers said in a serious manner, 'I feel that we should take a moment of silence to think about what we've just heard.'”
As a self-represented person, Mr. Best had been convicted 'in absentia' while not in Canada during a hearing he was not notified of. Later, sworn affidavit evidence by former Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police Julian Fantino and others proved that Mr. Best had been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned upon false evidence fabricated by lawyers and placed before the court while Mr. Best was traveling in Asia. The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) presented its 2018 Civil Liberties Award to Mr. Best for his anti-corruption work.
Watch the Video Here