Eddie Greenspan died December 24, 2014 at age 70
Brian (left) and Eddie Greenspan
Without warning, Brian Greenspan grabbed a long black robe and slipped it on. "See," the veteran lawyer told the judicial disciplinary panel hearing sexual harassment allegations against his client, a judge. "It is difficult to know where the genitals are located," he said, pointing to the zippered front of the gown, the same type worn by female registrars at the Barrie court where Judge Kerry Evans presided.
Lawyer Brian Greenspan left the gown on as he continued his cross-examination of the complainant, one of several courthouse employees who said the judge groped and kissed them.
Such theatrical courtroom gestures are more in keeping with the courtroom techniques of his better known, more flamboyant sibling Edward, but it typifies the well-mapped-out defence strategies for which Brian is known. "I didn't forget the gown," he said later.
Where Edward, 60, is a showman and more gregarious, 57-year-old Brian is considered more erudite and more elegant in the courtroom and his intimate knowledge of the law is unsurpassed, admirers say.
His ability to bring to a case both intellectual rigour and, on occasion, a little drama brought him to the legal team that represented Robert Baltovich this month in the appeal of his 1992 murder conviction in the death of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Bain. The eight-day hearing wrapped up this week with the judges reserving decision.
While Edward is known to tug at the heartstrings of jurors to argue a case, Brian usually sticks to the law, says Daniel Brodsky, a criminal lawyer and friend who says the younger Greenspan was an important ally in Mr. Baltovich's corner. Brian's role in the Robert Baltovich hearing was to point the finger at convicted murderer Paul Bernardo as the probable killer.
"You want someone who has sufficient respect of the appeal judges so they won't dismiss the issue outright," Mr. Brodsky says. "You want someone untouchable, someone not considered a flake or someone who will grandstand."
Brian, he says, never browbeats opponents, but tries to bring them to his point of view in a logical and persuasive manner. "He teaches you the law and it's like having your Grade 4 teacher teaching you again."
He's so well regarded within the legal profession that it's almost impossible to find anyone who does not sing his praises.
"I've never heard a bad word about him, and that's remarkable," says criminal lawyer William Trudell, a colleague and friend for 30 years who succeeded him as president of the Ontario Criminal Lawyers Association.
While Edward draws clients by his name and reputation alone, Brian tends to get more referrals from other lawyers whose clients need expert advice or specialized representation. "He's at the top of the referral list because he is a problem solver," Mr. Trudell says.
Brian has been a director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted for the past nine years, but his clients are not always on the right side of the law. Judge Evans was found guilty this week of professional misconduct, and Brian's defence of disgraced hockey czar Alan Eagleson made headlines, drawing his way some of the public anger directed toward his client, who eventually pleaded guilty to fraud.
Despite some high-profile cases, Brian hasn't gained the public recognition of his brother, who's been called "Fast Eddie" for the pace with which he picks up cases. Brian doesn't have a nickname, although his brother calls him "Mr. Perfect," recalling the day he received his law degree. "Why can't you be more like your brother," Edward recalls their mother telling them. When Edward pointed out that his law degree was three years old, she told him to keep quiet.
Brian began his career by following in his brother's footsteps, graduating from the University of Toronto and then studying law at Osgoode Hall before charting his own course by going to the London School of Economics and Political Science for his masters in law.
The two worked together for one year before parting ways, and now attribute their close relationship to having separate practices, though they breakfast together on Sundays.
The brothers say they are not professional rivals, but they do poke fun at each other. "I'm thinner," says Edward, who was always the heavier but this year lost a substantial amount of weight. "This is a historic moment."
Both brothers are workaholics, but Edward says his brother leads a more balanced life. Brian takes time to travel and spend time with his wife and kids, who share their father's passion for sports.
Brian can often be found watching the Toronto Blue Jays from his front-row seat along the first-base line, but his favourite pastime remains the law, and he says he never intends to retire. Indeed, his hope is to take his last breath in court. "They will carry me from the courtroom after a successful verdict," he once told a funeral director, "or appeal directly to your funeral home."