Published in the Ottawa Citizen, December 6, 2012
By Andrew Seymour
For the original posting, click HERE.
OTTAWA — A criminal defence lawyer became the target of a police sting after posting what was supposed to be confidential allegations against one of his clients online.
David Anber took to the web in an attempt to find someone who could help him read blacked-out portions of disclosure documents provided to him by the Crown and outlining evidence against his client.
The document also contained the client’s name, picture, date of birth, employment details and phone and credit card numbers as well as copies of her driver’s licence, pay slip and a bank account printout.
In his online post, Anber wrote that, as a lawyer, he frequently receives portable document format (pdf) documents that have been unnecessarily redacted.
“It wastes time to have to ask a judge to order the other party to unredact information,” Anber wrote in the post. “I would like a simple program that can allow me to remove black boxes redactions and to save them in their unredacted format in pdf.”
An Australian man who saw the post contacted Ottawa police, who in turn launched an undercover sting.
A detective posing as “Mark” from Florida told Anber he had a program that could reveal blacked-out material, according to an affidavit filed in court. The detective offered to send Anber an unredacted version of the document so he could see the program is working.
Anber agreed to pay the detective $500 for the software after indicating he “wanted to use it on more than just this one file,” according to the affidavit.
Following the police investigation, the Crown immediately sought an order from a judge requiring Anber to return the disclosure. Anber had breached an undertaking not to disseminate the documents when he posted them online.
The woman, who is no longer represented by Anber, didn’t know he was posting the material on the web.
On Monday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger called Anber’s conduct “egregious” and ordered that he return all disclosure provided to him by the Crown in relation to the woman’s case. He was also ordered to return all copies of electronic disclosure provided to him in relation to any other case.
Maranger also ordered that Anber be mentored by three senior lawyers for a minimum of one hour a week for the next three months.
Anber, who apologized in court for what he had done, voluntarily reported himself to the Law Society of Upper Canada, the regulatory body that oversees the conduct of lawyers in Ontario.
Anber declined to comment when reached by the Citizen Thursday.
The law society is likely to conduct its own investigation and Anber could face disciplinary proceedings.
If Anber is found to have violated codes of professional conduct, he could face penalties ranging from a reprimand to disbarment and the loss of his license.