In an earlier post, I mentioned that I have brought a lawsuit against Library and Archives Canada because they denied access to me to certain files in the Louis M. Bloomfield collection. I'm not the first person to do so, Maurice Phillips sued them in 2006 and again in 2008. At the end of the 2008 case, the court ruled that the archives could impose a restriction on some files in the collection, and what they did was to impose a 50 year restriction on those files that they believed to be subject to solicitor-client privilege. When I began my research of the Bloomfield collection years ago, I would check an online document on the archives website that would indicate which files were now 50 years old. I would then order those files and review them. In 2018 the archives informed me that those files that had the 50 year restriction i.e. those files that they deemed to be subject to solicitor-client privilege could no longer be viewed by the public. Because of this action by the archives, I brought a lawsuit against them in the Federal Court of Canada. Since bringing my court action, a new problem has arose. La Barreau du Quebec aka The Law Society of Quebec, which is one of the of the largest law societies in Canada, has intervened in my case at the request of the archives. They are intervening in my case because they want to defend solicitor-client privilege, which protects communications between a lawyer and his client from being divulged. I have informed them that the files Bloomfield donated to the archives are not protected by solicitor-client privilege because the files he donated are not related to his legal work with clients, but they still have not withdrawn their intervention. A local media outlet has written a story about my lawsuit. The story also has a comment from Harry Bloomfield, who is Louis M. Bloomfield’s nephew.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Lawyers In JFK Archive Case

One of Canada’s largest law societies is intervening in a court case over archival records linked by conspiracy theorists to the 1963 Kennedy assassination. The Québec bar association said the challenge raises important questions affecting all solicitors and clients. “We are intervening on the principle of solicitor-client confidentiality,” said Jean-Francois Del Torchio, director of communications for the Barreau du Québec. “That confidentiality doesn’t belong to the lawyer; it always belongs to the client. We have the mandate from our board of directors to protect solicitor-client confidentiality.” Library & Archives Canada in 1979 accepted a donation of 31 boxes of personal records from Louis Bloomfield, a Montréal attorney. Bloomfield from 1967 was named in unsubstantiated press reports as an agent for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency with knowledge of the JFK assassination. Bloomfield had asked that his records be released 20 years after his death; he died in 1984. However, archivists last February 21 told researchers the files would remain sealed forever since they contained confidential information. “On the advice of Department of Justice lawyers, Library & Archives Canada has closed in perpetuity records subject to client-solicitor privilege,” said the agency. John Kowalski, an Ottawa researcher, is suing for release of the Bloomfield papers in Federal Court. In an interview, Kowalski disputed claims the papers must be kept confidential in perpetuity. “To be protected by privilege, you have to be giving legal advice to a client,” said Kowalski. “The lawyer must be acting in their capacity as a lawyer. I’ve examined so many of these letters, and none of them involve legal advice – not one iota. These are general letters to many different people about business matters.” Researchers in 2006 won a Federal Court ruling Philipps v. Librarian & Archivist of Canada that there was no justification to withhold the files. Justice Simon Noël noted Bloomfield received tax credits for his donation under the Cultural Property Export And Import Act. “Once the term of 20 years is complete, the power of controlling access ends,” wrote the Court. Harry Bloomfield of Montréal, nephew of the archives donor, said in an interview his family remains baffled by claims their uncle had any connection to the CIA or Kennedy shooting. “He tried to fathom why this was happening,” said Bloomfield. “I see no reason why his files shouldn’t be completely open,” said Bloomfield. “I would like to get this whole conspiracy business cleared up, from the point of view of my late uncle. To say he would be involved in something like the Kennedy assassination is just grotesque, and if he were alive today I’m sure he would sue for defamation.” Bloomfield described his uncle as an esteemed lawyer and WWII veteran who left his papers with the national archives because “he thought his career might be interesting” for researchers. By Jason Unrau