Case #406

DATE: May 1, 2007
PARTIES: University of Toronto v. Mr. S.D.


Hearing Date(s): February 12, February 13 and March 26, 2007

Panel Members:
Ronald G. Slaght, Q.C. Chair
Stéphane Mechoulan Faculty Panel Member
Adrian Asselin Student Panel Member

Appearances:
Linda R. Rothstein
Robert A. Centa, Counsel for the University
William M. Trudell
Mark A. Lapowich, Counsel for the Student

Trial Division – s. B.i.3(a) of Code - forged academic record – forged academic records twice submitted to employer – Agreed Statement of Facts – guilty plea - previous falsification incident at Faculty of Law - unable to advance towards Bar while charges outstanding – expulsion or degree recall for falsification of academic record - see case of Mr. L. and case of Mr. Y. – deliberate acts of deception and dishonesty – third party involvement - fraud and deception perpetrated on third party particularly offensive – publicity caused University to suffer from commission of offence - character highly relevant to disposition – possibility for rehabilitation - three-year suspension; permanent notation on the Student’s transcript; and report issued to Provost

Student charged under s. B.i.3(a), and alternatively, under s. B.i.3(b) of the Code. The charges related to allegations that the Student submitted an altered academic record to his employer, which misrepresented his marks in three courses and that he later altered his academic record in the same particulars when he submitted a second false record to the law firm. The matter proceeded on an Agreed Statement of Facts and a contested hearing on sanction. The Student admitted that he had asked a friend to effect the two alterations to his academic record because he believed it would improve his chances of being offered an articling position and subsequently a job as an associate lawyer at the law firm. The Panel considered the Agreed Statement of Facts and the submissions of counsel, and accepted the Student’s guilty plea to the charge under s. B.1.3(a) of the Code. At the time of the alleged second falsification, the Student had graduated from the University. The Panel observed that although it did not have jurisdiction to convene a hearing into the second falsification, it would have been possible for the University to convene a hearing of its Governing Council which would have had the jurisdiction to potentially recall the Student’s degree. The Panel observed that while the parties had agreed that the second falsification could be taken into account to the extent that the Student had repeated his conduct, the matter before the hearing and the penalty to be levied was with respect to the plea to one charge only, for the first falsification. The parties submitted an Agreed Statement of Facts Relevant to Sanction, which centered on a publicized previous falsification incident at the Faculty of Law. The Panel considered the Student’s apology to the firm and his conduct in self-reporting himself to the Law Society. The Panel observed that the Student was unable to advance towards the Bar so long as the charges remained outstanding. The Panel considered previous decisions of the Tribunal, including the case of Mr. L. and the case of Mr. Y. and found that the Tribunal and its predecessors had imposed expulsion or recall of the degree for the falsification of an academic record, and that the deception of third parties was emphasised as particularly offensive conduct. The Panel found that the Student was a sophisticated and senior student who was aware of the traumatic effect of the previous forgery incident upon the Faculty; that he had been exposed to both academic teaching and practical instruction underlying the requirement for ethical behavior; that he had committed himself to uphold the standards of integrity at the Rotman School; and that previous misrepresentations he had made to the Rotman School occurred after he had submitted his falsified transcript to the firm. The Panel found that the Student’s acts of deception and dishonesty were deliberate; that he involved a friend in his misconduct; that he perpetrated a fraud and deception upon a third party, both as a law student and as a law graduate; and that the University suffered from the commission of the offence, as it was widely publicized as another failure at the Faculty of Law. The Panel recognized the concern of the University for a penalty that would act as a deterrent, having regard to the publicity that the matter had generated. The Panel found that the Student’s character was highly relevant to its disposition. The Panel considered how the Student dealt with the facts surrounding the incident; his post incident conduct; his circumstances at the time of the hearing; and the character evidence presented by a representative of the Student’s former law firm and the opinion of a well respected lawyer. The Panel considered the principle goal of reformation and found that on all the evidence, including its assessment of the Student’s response to questions and demeanour in the witness box, the Student could be fully rehabilitated, and that he should be given the opportunity to continue on towards an eventual call to the Bar, should the Law Society permit him to do so. The Panel imposed a three-year suspension; a permanent notation on the Student’s academic record; and that a report be issued to the Provost.