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Monday, August 23, 2010

GROIA FAILS IN BID TO DISMISS LSUC CASE

Joe Groia has failed in an attempt to have charges of professional misconduct against him dismissed.

In a motion heard in March this year, Groia attacked the Law Society of Upper Canada for its vague allegations and inadequate investigation and said the application against him for alleged incivility in the courtroom threatened the independence of the bar.

But Tom Conway, writing for the three-member LSUC disciplinary panel in a decision this month, said the issues raised in the case were too important to be determined summarily.

He said the case would get to the heart of whether “uncivil conduct can be justified by the duty to defend vigorously a client’s civil rights” and whether the law society’s rules infringe on that obligation.

“The hearing panel is convinced that these allegations cannot be properly disposed of without the benefit of a full evidentiary record,” Conway wrote.

The law society issued its application in November 2009. It dealt with Groia’s defence of John Felderhof in a matter that had begun a decade earlier.

The Ontario Securities Commission moved to have the trial judge removed by alleging he was biased towards Groia, who had savagely attacked the OSC’s conduct in the case.

The motion was denied, but Groia’s conduct was criticized in the decisions, including one by Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Marc Rosenberg.

He labelled Groia’s conduct “appallingly unrestrained and on occasion unprofessional.” The law society is now relying on those judgments to support its allegations.

CBA URGES TRANSGENDER RIGHTS

The Canadian Bar Association is urging the federal government to include attacks on transgendered Canadians in hate crimes and human rights legislation through a resolution passed last week.

The resolution received unanimous approval at the CBA’S annual council in Niagara Falls, Ont.

“Transgender Canadians disproportionately fall victim to hate crimes and yet they are offered no protection under human rights legislation,” said Kristine Barr of the CBA’s sexual orientation and gender identity conference.

A private member’s bill introduced in the House of Commons earlier this year by NDP MP Bill Siksay would explicitly recognize gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds for discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

HEENAN BLAIKIE LAUDED FOR DESIGN

Heenan Blaikie LLP’s Toronto office has won an international design award.

The firm was one of six recipients of the Shaw Contract Group’s 2010 Design Is… Award.

The panel of judges recognized the firm’s innovative five-floor space at the Bay Adelaide Centre. The awards, created five years ago, received 250 applications from 15 countries around the world.

FORMER JAG GETS CBA HONOUR

The Canadian Bar Association has awarded its 2010 President’s Award to retired brigadier-general Ken Watkin.

Watkin recently retired after four years as the judge advocate general of the Canadian Forces.

That position was the culmination of a 33-year career in military service. Watkin was the legal adviser to the inquiry in the 1990s into the actions of Canadian soldiers in Somalia and also served as counsel to inquiries arising from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

More recently, Watkin was appointed an observer to the Israeli investigation into the Gaza flotilla incident in May.

“This award honours his dedication to the core values of the Canadian legal profession, his exemplary leadership, and his exceptional military service,” said outgoing CBA president Kevin Carroll.

Watkin picked up the award during the CBA’s annual conference in Niagara Falls last week.

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