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Monday, August 5, 2013

MACKAY, MCLACHLIN TO SPEAK AT CBA

Recently appointed Justice Minister Peter MacKay will attend this year’s Canadian Bar Association conference in Saskatoon.

MacKay will deliver a speech at the opening plenary of the conference on Aug. 18. He’ll also take part in a dialogue with CBA members on Aug. 19, the CBA announced.

Also in attendance at this year’s conference will be Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and official languages commissioner Graham Fraser. McLachlin will address the CBA council on Aug. 18 and hold an informal media briefing the same day.

Fraser, whose address will take place Aug. 18, will release a study on bilingualism and the judiciary, according to the CBA.

CLINIC FUNDING CUT REVERSED

Legal Aid Ontario has rescinded a decision to reduce legal clinics’ core funding by $1 million for 2013-14.

LAO “is very pleased to announce that with the co-operation and support of the Ministry of the Attorney General, additional funds have been secured which will be used to rescind the previously announced clinic budget reductions for the current fiscal year,” the organization announced July 26.

In early July, LAO advised clinics that while it was increasing their overall funding by $3.15 million, the new money in fact related to $4.15 million for technology upgrades. In turn, it was reducing their core funding by $1 million, a move that prompted an outcry from legal clinics.

For more, see "Funding clinic reform."

GEORGINA LAWYER DISBARRED

A Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel has disbarred a Georgina, Ont., lawyer over financial concerns.

The panel found Jennifer Georgina Ann White engaged in professional misconduct for, among other things, misappropriating funds in her mixed trust account held on behalf of client M.N. and failing to co-operate with seven law society investigations by not responding to at least 15 letters.

On July 15, the panel revoked White’s licence and ordered her to pay costs of about $23,000.

‘IRRATIONAL’  COMPLAINTS INCREASE

The Canadian Judicial Council is seeing a significant increase in complaints about judges it deems to be an abuse of process or clearly irrational, according to the organization’s annual report released late last month.

“There has been an increase in the number of files deemed by the executive director to be an abuse of the complaints process or ‘clearly irrational,’ pursuant to the complaints procedure,” according to the 2012-13 annual report. In fact, it sent 34 such letters in the most recent year compared to 28 in 2011-12 and eight in 2010-11.

In one case, an individual wrote to the council in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011, and 2012 with concerns about a disputed land ownership matter. In his letters, he made “vague allegations of fraud and conspiracy on the part of various lawyers and judges” and sent the CJC various court documents, according to the annual report.

“It was unclear what he wanted council to do with these documents,” the report states.

“In light of our history of exchanges, council’s numerous attempts to clarify our mandate and the writer’s continual submission of court documents without any credible or clear complaint, we advised the individual that his correspondence constituted an abuse of the complaints process and that we would be taken [sic] no action.”

Besides the complaints detailed in the report, the council also saw a significant increase in correspondence with complainants on files that may or may not lead to a formal review by the judicial conduct committee. During the most recent year, it sent 233 letters to people seeking clarity on its mandate or who were expressing dissatisfaction or complaints. That was up from 163 in 2011-12; 114 in 2010-11; and 83 in 2009-10.

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