Twitter’s No Place For A Lawyer With An “Aggressive and Zealous Attitude”

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Via the Toronto Star:

A Toronto criminal lawyer’s Twitter account has sparked outrage online after several offensive tweets were posted in the wake of the Boston bombing.

The tweets were sent last week from Twitter account @Dasilvalaw, which has since been deleted, though several retweets can still be found online.

“I pray for the suspects. May they slay the police army of satan. Death to all police!” reads one posting sent from @Dasilvalaw. Other tweets from that account contained vitriolic responses to offended Twitter users, including “am praying that u get violently raped. May cancer be upon u.!!!”

The lawyer, David Da Silva, 34, said in an emailed response sent Monday to the Star that he is “not the author of any such tweets.”

Asked in a follow-up email if his account had been hacked, the defence lawyer said he is “having this matter investigated at this time.”

Lawyer Nadia Liva, who sent an email to the Star saying she is acting as his counsel, said he is “very concerned” and “we are currently investigating the tweets, which were not authored by Mr. Da Silva.”

I don’t know Da Silva, either personally or professionally, but his website bio is generic:

David obtained his B.A. (Hons.) at York University and his LL.B at Osgoode Hall Law School.  David was accepted into the elite Criminal Intensive Program at Osgoode and obtained one of only 7 national placements as a law student for the judges at 1000 Finch Ave Courthouse and is a member of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.  He went on to article for senior counsel Bruce Olmsted, Q.C. where he was able to gain valuable exposure and work experience on many high profile cases including many organized crime and task force Projects.

David’s is a passionate believer in civil rights and had a lifelong dream to practice criminal defense law.  David brings the human touch to his client relations while maintaining an aggressive and zealous attitude when defending his clients.  His approach is one of defending every client vigorously.  David will guide you through the criminal process at all stages of court proceedings, including after the conclusion of proceedings in assisting you with matters such as retrieving property seized by the police, getting fingerprints and photographs destroyed after an acquittal or withdrawal of charges.

The Da Silva Law website does not provide any information on year of call or date of graduation, which tells me that he is either a recent call or has less than five years of experience. Note the typical flawging buzz words: “passionate”, “life long dream” “human touch” and “aggressive and zealous attitude”.

The following are a couple of RTs (retweets) that are still accessible on Twitter, despite the fact that the @DaSilvaLaw account has since been deleted (by the account owner or Twitter):

Twitter   simonkinglaw  This person is a lawyer in ...

Twitter   SeaEhmElle  Someone needs attention and ...

In my opinion, Mr. Da Silva is caught in a catch-22.

If he sent the tweets, then the Law Society of Upper Canada will not hesitate to pursue the complaint filed by the Toronto Police Association. Even frivolous complaints are pursued with vigilance by our profession’s governing body, as my own personal experience attests.

The tweets are clearly offensive and malicious, as pointed out by Toronto criminal defence lawyer Sean Robichaud (Twitter: @seanrobichaud):

On Monday, another Toronto lawyer, Sean Robichaud, tweeted his disgust at the “utterly vile” content sent from the Twitter account. Da Silva was a tenant renting space in Robichaud’s offices but was asked to leave for “unrelated reasons,” and before the tweets were sent. Robichaud added he doesn’t know if Da Silva sent the tweets.

If somehow Mr. Da Silva had no knowledge that a Twitter account was opened under his firm name, or that he let someone else handle his Twitter account, then he is still likely subject to professional discipline, unless his Twitter account was somehow hacked. Ghostweeting and ghostblawging always conjure up the TurkewitzBennett  Law Marketing Axiom:

Outsource Your Marketing, Outsource Your Ethics and Reputation.

Perhaps Da Silva’s office manager, Christopher Nabeta, can shed further light on this issue.

What troubles me is the manner of reporting by various media outlets concerning Mr. Da Silva’s prior and pending criminal charges:

Last fall, a judge acquitted Da Silva of charges that he beat, sexually assaulted and threatened to kill a woman whom he denied knowing well. She testified he was controlling, jealous and verbally and physically abusive. The judge found her testimony contradictory and implied she had fabricated the accusations.

After his acquittal, Da Silva suggested police targeted him because he is a defence lawyer unafraid to litigate racial profiling cases.

He is currently facing more charges laid last June, including criminal harassment, threatening death and assault. He is alleged to have sent a threatening text message to a woman. He also allegedly smashed her face against a door frame. He is scheduled to appear in court May 15.

Similar fact evidence of prior bad acts? Come on Toronto Star, you can do better than this.

Instead of prurient details and innuendo, why not just do some investigative reporting and dig up some other tweets from the same Twitter account? How about this one:

DASILVALAW’s Newest Tweets

While calling all police officers “sociopaths” is hyperbolic, it appears not to have drawn the ire of either the Toronto Police Association or the Law Society of Upper Canada.

As my colleague, Andreas Papadopoulos, who also called out the highly offensive tweet on Twitter recently replied:

Twitter   APLawToronto   APribetic  lawsocietylsuc ...


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18 Responses to “Twitter’s No Place For A Lawyer With An “Aggressive and Zealous Attitude””

  1. Ted Folkman Says:

    Interesting in a train-wreck kind of way. One though prompted by your comment on the “prior bad acts” reporting: in the courtroom we exclude prior bad act evidence. But we do so not because it is not probative, but because it is too probative, or rather because a jury is likely to give it more probative weight than it should. So it’s not Woodward-and-Bernstein material, but I think it arguably belongs in the article.

  2. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Thanks, Ted.

    An acquittal does not qualify as a “prior bad act”. It has no probative value.

  3. Frank Says:

    This is disgusting. It’s pretty clear that this young lawyer is going through some sort of break down and the reaction of you (along with a number of other spot light seeking lawyers) seems to be to pile on? Are you kidding when you called out the Star for just reporting the “prurient details” only? That’s all you’re doing. Disgraceful. You and the other holier than thou lawyers should be ashamed.

  4. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Hey, Frank. Thanks for stopping by. I gather you would prefer that no one write or comment about this. My only question is “what’s in it for you?”

  5. shg Says:

    I think what Ted meant to say is that it’s more prejudicial than probative, in that people tend to rely on a person’s propensity to engage in bad conduct even though it has no probabtive value in the commission of a specific subsequent act.

    Then again, an acquittal is not taken as proof of innocence, but rather that he got away with it. Still, it certainly juices up a story rather nicely.

  6. Jordan Rushie Says:


  7. shg Says:

    I too am deeply disappointed about the prurient details. No pictures? Without pictures, it never happened.

  8. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Thanks. I thought I understood Ted’s point and I acknowledge that the admissibility of an acquittal as proof of prior bad acts or similar fact evidence may differ in your respective jurisdictions. In Ontario, In R. v. Vermey (1993), 87 C.C.C. (3d) 363 (Ont. C.A.) Finlayson J.A. held that allegations which ultimately lead to an acquittal are inadmissible as similar fact evidence in another proceeding, emphasizing that an acquittal is in law a declaration of innocence for all purposes. At p. 371 he added that, “[t]his must be so, because the verdict of not guilty restores to the accused the presumption of innocence.”

    More recently, in R. v. Mahalingan, 2008 SCC 63, [2008] 3 SCR 316 (SCC) the Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed the effect of issue estoppel of a subsequent trial of an accused on another matter; albeit with a narrow exception. MacLachlin C.J. held:

    “[33] The most significant extensions of the traditional rule of issue estoppel are first, the view that it operates to bar the Crown from leading evidence on any issue raised in a prior trial which resulted in an acquittal; and second, the view that it can operate retrospectively to bar or require the redaction of evidence from a first trial, where there is an acquittal on a subsequent charge involving evidence led at the first trial, as is argued in this appeal: R. v. G. (K.R.) reflex, (1991), 68 C.C.C. (3d) 268 (Ont. C.A.); R. v. Rulli 1999 CanLII 3712 (ON CA), (1999), 134 C.C.C. (3d) 465 (Ont. C.A.), leave to appeal refused, [2000] 1 S.C.R. xviii; R. v. Verney reflex, (1993), 87 C.C.C. (3d) 363 (Ont. C.A.). As to the first issue, as is discussed above at paras. 18-26, issue estoppel does not mean that every piece of evidence led in a first trial which leads to an acquittal is inadmissible in a subsequent trial on another matter. Only issues that were either necessarily resolved in favour of the accused as part of the acquittal, or on which findings were made (even if on the basis of reasonable doubt) are estopped. This would usually include the central issue in the case if it is a one-issue case, or particular issues in a multi-issue case, if the court at the second trial can discern from reviewing the transcript that a finding was made on a particular issue, even if on the basis of reasonable doubt.”

  9. Frank Says:

    I don’t think a blog about some tweets in which you simply reproduce a Star article and add nothing ought to be elevated to the status of writing or comment. As a senior member of the bar perhaps you should show a little more class.

  10. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    I would give your opinion a modicum of consideration, but for the fact that you have used two different email addresses to mask your identity.

    Alas, your anonymity does nothing to dissuade me from inferring that you have a personal agenda or some axe to grind.

    If you had taken the time to read the post and links, including screenshots, you would have demonstrated not only basic reading comprehension, but would have elevated yourself to the level of class to which you accuse me of failing to exhibit.

    The simple fact is that, although I have approved your comments. I have done so to expose your ignorance and bias.

    Good luck.

  11. tannebaum Says:

    Frank, I agree with you. I think its appropriate for you to fill out this form–31nMhxCLX0/TjG_UOadRRI/AAAAAAAAI9I/TIfTU5Dzr0U/s1600/Butthurt-report-form.jpg

  12. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:


  13. Jordan Rushie Says:

    Nino, you ought to give Francis back his money. He’s very dissatisfied with your blog.

    Next time, I suggest you write a post that makes him happy. Did you at least run this post by him before you hit the publish button?

  14. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Frankly, no.

  15. Raul Says:

    Umm….is this typical for one of your posts? If so color me subscribed!

  16. Antonin I. Pribetic Says:

    Thanks. I aspire to be the Classy Freddie Blassie of the Blawgosphere.

  17. When tweeting from a law firm Twitter account, be sure not to wish ‘death to all police’ | Legal Cheek Says:

    […] to the Trial Warrior Blog, a number of months ago @Dasilvalaw had […]

  18. a Says:

    Very creative,I like it.

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