Supreme Court lifts sealing orders on Barry and Honey Sherman estate files in unanimous decision, paves way for access

The Supreme Court on Friday lifted a ceiling order on the property files of slain billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman in a unanimous decision, paving the way for the Toronto Star to access the files and close a three-year legal battle.

The couple was found dead at their Toronto home in 2017 – a high-profile case in which police never named suspects or publicly disclosed a possible motive.

The court files include a last will and testament to the assets of the billionaire founder of generic drug giant Apotex, Barry Sherman, and his wife, Honey. (It is not known whether he had a will.)

The case’s only full-time detective told a Toronto court in May that police had been following a “principle of the case” for four months after the murder.

Toronto police have also said in court that Barry Sherman’s assets are “embedded” in the murder investigation.

In 2018, the Toronto Star’s chief investigative reporter Kevin Donovan requested access to the property files – which would normally be publicly accessible – only to find that the trustees of the property had taken the sealing from a judge without giving notice to the media. order was received.

Donovan and the Star challenged the ceiling order before Superior Court Justice Sean Dunphy, who upheld the order for two years.

On Starr’s behalf, Donovan was able to overturn that decision in the Ontario Court of Appeals, but the Sherman trustees appealed to the Supreme Court, where arguments were heard last October before a panel of seven judges.

The argument centered on a two-part trial prescribed by the Supreme Court for anyone seeking a ban in a court proceeding, such as a ceiling order.

They must first demonstrate that there is a “serious risk of harm to the public interest” that cannot otherwise be addressed; Then, a judge must balance whether the benefits of restriction outweigh the benefits of openness.

A major sticking point that emerged during a Supreme Court hearing last year was whether there is a clear security risk to the “affected persons” – the trustees of the Sherman Estate and its beneficiaries – that would justify maintaining the ceiling order.

The trustees’ attorney, Chantal Sesch, argued that they have a “reasonable expectation of confidentiality” and pose a security risk, noting that the identity of Sherman’s killer or killers remains unknown.

Granthshala’s attorney, Iris Fischer, said the open court principle — the notion that all court proceedings are public — must prevail. “It is fundamentally important access to court files that this court should protect in this case,” Fisher argued before the top court last year.

Donovan reported earlier this year that according to sources, Barry Sherman’s will decided that his “net proceeds” would go to his wife in the event of her death.

With both Sherman, the assets – net income and capital – divided directly equally to the four Sherman children, sons Jonathan and their sisters Lauren, Alexandra and Kellen, according to family sources, although there are ongoing disputes over control of Sherman’s. of a trading empire.

Starr also learned that nine months before the murders, Barry added a codices to his will, reducing the number of trustees presiding over his estate from eight to four. The three Sherman daughters were left as trustees, the star reported.

With files from Kevin Donovan
Jacques Gallant is a Toronto-based reporter who covers politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @JacquesGallant

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