James Cooper Morton had it all; however, now the prominent Hamilton attorney, a member of the Law Society of Ontario and Nunavut and former president of the Ontario Bar Association, can also in no way exercise law once more after pleading responsible to forging divorce papers and bigamy.
The 58-year-old stood up in a Newmarket courtroom on Friday and admitted he married Jennifer Packwood, a regulation clerk from the office wherein he labored in Hamilton, despite the reality he turned into married to his spouse Rhonda Shusterman. Morton and Shusterman were married in 1990.
Shusterman is a Justice of the Peace on the Newmarket courthouse. According to the agreed announcement of data, she told police she and Morton had been no longer divorced, and no application for divorce had ever been made.
The wedding ceremony for Morton and Packwood took place at Jordan Manor in St. Catharines on May 12, 2018. The conventional wedding ceremony invitation despatched to visitors turned into provided a show off in courtroom along with photos from the glad day showing the bride and groom. Morton may be seen sporting a tuxedo, and Packwood may be seen in a sleeveless off-white robe. The officiant, Kevin Philip, turned into furnished with the wedding license and achieved what he believed to be a legal bridal ceremony.
But York Regional Police had been already investigating Morton, unbeknownst to his might-be 2d spouse.
Less than a month before the wedding and believe that Morton was in the manner of having a divorce from Shusterman, Packwood requested an articling pupil from the law office in which she worked with Morton to head the Newmarket courthouse with a divorce order Morton had proven her. She stated she wanted to ensure his divorce from Shusterman could be finalized in time for his or her May 12 wedding date.
Packwood becomes unaware the divorce order became fake. According to courtroom documents, Morton had proven Packwood the divorce record. Packwood knew it turned into the cloth cabinet drawer inside the Hamilton domestic Packwood and Morton shared.
On April 23, 2018, Morton’s law pupil went to the Newmarket courthouse and went to the court docket workplace, wherein a circle of relative’s court files is filed and saved. The scholar provided the divorce order, a $19 non-public cheque signed by Jennifer Packwood and his business, and asked for certificates of divorce.
It has become apparent to the clerk that there have been some issues with the divorce order. The court record quantity on order did no longer exist. Furthermore, there was no courtroom document and no report of any complaints involving James Morton and Rhonda Shusterman in Newmarket. It turned into later decided that one in every of two signatures on the fake divorce order created by Morton had been copied from a choice on Packwood’s divorce order. She had also been married once earlier than and become legally divorced in September 2017.
The clerk instructed the law student that he couldn’t trouble certificates of divorce instant and informed the scholar that when they observed the record, the certificate could be mailed, or they could call him to pick it up. The scholar left and informed Packwood of what came about in the court docket. When Packwood informed Morton she despatched their law student to the courthouse to get a divorce certificate and was not in a position to get one, Morton agreed he could take care of it.
York Regional Police have been known as after the courtroom workplace decided the divorce order was faux and crook research commenced. In the period in-between, Morton attended Hamilton town hall and applied for a wedding license bringing with him a fraudulent certificate of divorce that he created. Morton additionally declared he changed into divorced and wrote a faux court docket report number at the shape.
Police interviewed Shusterman on May 8, 2018. She becomes already aware that research had all started into the divorce order. According to the agreed declaration of data, she advised police she had spoken to Morton about it. Shusterman has pressured approximately who could have created this fake divorce order and why. She suggested that Morton become further pressured and disillusioned approximately this faux divorce order, and he had no idea who created it and why.
On May eight, police also spoke to Morton to arrange a time to interview him. He stated he couldn’t meet the police till May 15. According to court documents, Morton knew before May 12 – the date of his wedding to Packwood — that police were carrying out criminal research right into a fraudulent divorce order that he had created and depended on.
On May 23, 2018, simply eleven days after the marriage, Morton met with York Regional Police and instructed them he turned into nonetheless married to Rhonda Shusterman. He instructed investigators he became residing at his office in Hamilton; however, he still resided with his spouse in concept and changed into “back and forth” along with his wife. He additionally said there were some problems within the marriage. However, he becomes trying to work it out.
Morton explained that he created the divorce order being investigated but did not intend to give it to anyone or use it for any motive because it wasn’t actual. Morton said he was considering divorcing his wife after developing the document and realized he didn’t need to. He said that when he created the divorce order, he become sitting in his workplace “very sad, desperate, drinking and imagining what it’d be like to be divorced. It became even as he became in that nation of thoughts that Morton created the divorce order.