Wednesday, October 29, 2008

 

Ontario takes aim at disruptive lawyers

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Quote: "Now that criminal trials have become long and complex, leading members of the bar are avoiding them, and the damage caused by less experienced or able members of the bar conducting these trials is much greater," says the draft, obtained by The Globe and Mail".


A law expanded to include any person, government, department or institution knowingly delaying any trial should be welcomed in British Columbia right now. Although the Ontario review is directed at Legal Aid cases, it's fair to ask whether public interest cases such as Basi-Virk / BC Rail should be understood in the same way, given that an enormous legal bill resulting from delayed disclosure could descend upon the B.C. taxpayers at some point in the future. - BC Mary.

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Ontario review takes aim at disruptive lawyers

KIRK MAKIN
Globe and Mail - October 29, 2008

An Ontario review aimed at stopping the spread of costly, runaway criminal trials is set to recommend that inept or disruptive lawyers be cut off legal aid funding and subjected to harsh professional discipline.

A draft copy of the sweeping report also suggests that obstreperous litigants who represent themselves in court be "physically removed" if they disrupt their trial, and that police and prosecutors be issued strict deadlines for disclosing evidence to the defence.

The draft report, commissioned last February by Ontario Attorney-General Chris Bentley, warns that tough action is needed to salvage the justice system's reputation from the antics of inexperienced or irresponsible lawyers who hijack trials.

"Now that criminal trials have become long and complex, leading members of the bar are avoiding them, and the damage caused by less experienced or able members of the bar conducting these trials is much greater," says the draft, obtained by The Globe and Mail.

{Snip} ...

Mr. LeSage and Prof. Code point a finger of blame for run-on trials at legislators, who have added layer after layer to the law books. "The new legislation in these areas is complex, unfamiliar and untested - and it has led to lengthy new proceedings," they said.

The draft report was also critical of the Law Society of Upper Canada for taking a hands-off approach to lawyers who have perverted the court system with disruptive or incompetent behaviour.

"We encountered widespread dismay - if not outright cynicism - amongst members of the judiciary on the subject of LSUC discipline in this area," Mr. LeSage and Prof. Code said. "There is a widespread perception that the LSUC does little or nothing in response to courtroom misconduct."

However, they pinned much of the responsibility on a mass exodus of top lawyers who cannot afford to work for legal aid's grossly inadequate fees.

(Senior lawyers typically charge paying clients between $300 and $500 an hour. Under a legal aid certificate, the best they could hope for is $98 an hour.)

"We are trapped in a vicious circle," Mr. LeSage and Prof. Code observed. They said nobody is riding herd on the small coterie of defence lawyers - some of whom may be long on years, but short on sound judgment and experience with complex proceedings - who elongate trials with endless motions and no-hope legal strategies.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081029.wcourts29/BNStory/National/

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Comments:
This may be off topic, but I'm reminded of the Toronto lawyer who chose to represent some suspected terrorist, about 3-4 years ago. This lawyer gave up his clients after recieving many treatening phone calls from an American organisation, he wouldn't say which organisation...CIA or FBI? He, the lawyer, reported the treats to the RCMP, and the RCMP wouldn't intervine!
Another off topic but related, where are the comments about the former Vanc.police chief Graham? The report came out about Grahams failure to hold his officers accountable! The report was from the RCMP, who found resaons for their investigation. Graham, will not be held accountable? Nor will the officers in question!
Does anyone see a trend here?
 
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