Opinion: Lawyer Carey Linde: “Back to the stodgy club of old, back to the Star Chamber, that’s progressive.”
Some of his colleagues dismiss lawyer Carey Linde as annoying, but benign, when the 80-year-old gadfly resorts to in- and out-of-court, in-your-face tactics and rhetoric more befitting a shock jock.
Pushing the envelope is sometimes necessary on behalf of a client, Linde believes — argue the law when the facts don’t look good, debate the facts if the law doesn’t help, and, if neither helps, stir the pot.
He has been a quixotic nemesis of the Law Society of B.C. since it unsuccessfully half-a-century ago tried to keep him out of the profession because of his University of B.C. student antics.
Now, in the twilight of his career, his forever-young ’60s idealism has triggered a bookend joust. This time, he reputedly went too far for a father out to stop his teenager from continuing testosterone treatments.
During B.C. Supreme Court proceedings in early 2019, Linde was accused of breaching publication bans imposed to protect the youth’s privacy.
Justice Francesca Marzari concluded media interviews and internet posts indicated he or the father weren’t pursuing the youth’s best interests.
Linde insisted it was an honest mistake, and removed the material from his site.
Marzari could have sanctioned him or, as other judges have, suggested the law society investigate Linde’s conduct. She didn’t.
When the dad lost, Linde asked for a stay of the ruling and, in mid-August 2019, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson said no.
Afterward, on Aug. 16, the law society informed Linde he was under investigation after a complaint from Hinkson, in a five-page Aug. 12 missive marked “confidential.”
The law society warned Linde not to share, quote or talk about the complaint. Linde wanted to fulminate, not stew. He had choice words for the chief judge.
But a year passed, nothing happened.
Then, on Dec. 15, 2020, Hinkson issued a directive requiring court participants to provide their preferred pronouns — he, she, they, him, her, their …
The rule ignited a brush fire among lawyers, handing Linde a glorious opening to his gender crusade.
When the law society put preferred pronouns on the 2021 annual general meeting agenda, it poured accelerant on the blaze.
Meanwhile, the investigation into Linde finally resulted in a citation on June 21, 2021 — it alleged he had thrice breached court orders between May 2019 and January 2021.
Unperturbed, Linde continued ridiculing the pronoun rule, distributing an email titled: “Law Society Blues,” including a poster of two gunfighters saying, “Don’t Miss the Gunfight at the LSBC Corral.”
A complaint that his rhetoric “evoked a sense of violence and appeared to be an attempt to incite others,” provoked another citation.
Ultimately, Linde was cautioned to consider the feelings of the “historically marginalized” because, in the future, using such language could be deemed professional misconduct.
Regardless, the Oct. 4, 2021, annual law society meeting degenerated into name-calling and revealed broad opposition to the pronoun directive. It was embarrassing — the rule wasn’t within its ambit, not its job to support and the public interest was ignored.
A month later, on Nov. 18, Hinkson announced the titles, “My Lord” and “My Lady” for judges could be dropped, abandoning an old practice that made the original directive sound tone-deaf.
On Dec. 13, Linde received a second citation for breaching the court bans on May 15, 2021.
He was angry but eagerly anticipated the disciplinary hearing — expecting to have a pulpit to recount what he believed were ham-handed attempts to stifle his participation in the gender debate. He imagined denouncing Hinkson for his animus and indicting the law society for not identifying the judge as the grand puppeteer of his persecution. It didn’t happen.
The normally public hearing last month was surprisingly held in camera.
“Back to the stodgy club of old, back to the Star Chamber, that’s progressive,” Linde acerbically quipped.
The law society communications director, Jason Kuzminski, explained the secrecy:
“Our rules require that all information that forms part of a complaint be treated as confidential. More important than who is the complainant is that the complaint was investigated and the evidence of a breach of the Code of Professional Conduct was sufficient to substantiate citations being issued.”
That is bogus — the chief justice shouldn’t be able to ask the law society to investigate a lawyer and remain hidden. If the person holding that powerful office complains about a lawyer, it should be made public, as transparency is necessary to avoid the risks of intimidation or abuse that could affect the course of justice.
No matter the verdict about Linde’s conduct, Attorney-General David Eby must address this glaring concern.
With his varied interests, child-like glee, and celebrated photographs, Linde comes across as a bit of a Marcel Duchamp — someone who enjoys tweaking The Man’s nose.
But he isn’t a Dada artist. The gravitas of a trial and the risk of damage to an adolescent should not be treated lightly.
Nevertheless, the man who once got his dog a UBC library card and appointed a brewer an honorary law student to annoy the benchers remains unrepentant: “I came into law with a breech birth. I don’t know what happens next, but no matter what they do, I’m going to carry on. It’s a righteous cause as they say.”