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Monday, January 26, 2009

CIVIL CASELOAD HIGHER IN 2008

Ontario’s civil courts were modestly busier in 2007/2008 from the previous year, with Statistics Canada reporting a two -per -cent rise in the caseload.

But while the courts dealt with more cases, there were one per cent - or fewer added to the list in 2007/2008.

Overall, the province’s civil courts saw 259,348 cases initiated over the period, versus 261,806 in 2006/2007. In terms of active cases, there were 481,250 in 2007/2008, up from 469,709 over the previous term.

The breakdown of the cases in 2007/2008 was 66 per cent general civil matters - such as injury caused by motor vehicle, bankruptcy matters, and probate cases - and 34 per cent family cases.

NEW JUDGES APPOINTED

The Ontario Court of Justice has three new judges in its ranks.

Justice Robert Beninger has been assigned to the Peterborough area and Durham. Called to the bar in 1984, Beninger has practised criminal and family law.

The new judge previously worked as a part-time assistant Crown attorney, standing agent for the federal government for the county of Peterborough, and sole practitioner in private practice.

Justice Michael Block, called to the bar in 1988, is a criminal law specialist. He has particular experience representing police officers in Police Act matters, doctors before the Health Disciplines Board, and as an inquest counsel. He will preside in Oshawa.

Justice Manjusha Pawagi, who will preside in Brampton, was called to the bar in 1997. The family law practitioner worked as counsel for the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and counsel for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

“The years of experience these new judges bring to the bench will help to strengthen Ontario’s justice system,” said Attorney General Chris Bentley. “I am confident that they will make significant contributions to the Ontario Court of Justice.”

The new appointments take effect Jan. 28.

LINTON NAMED MCLEOD PROFESSOR

Hilary Linton of Riverdale Mediation has received the first ever James G. McLeod Professorship in Family Law at the University of Western Ontario’s Faculty of Law.

The post was created in memory of McLeod, a highly regarded law professor at the faculty and a top family law expert who died suddenly in 2005.

She will teach conflict resolution theory and practice for family law matters to second- and third-year law students.

OJEN HOSTS MOCK TRIALS

A project developed by the Ontario Justice Education Network and delivered with the help of the Toronto Lawyers’ Association and Ontario Court of Appeal articling clerks aims to help kids grasp the justice system.

“The idea is to educate students about Ontario’s justice system by putting together a program that piques their interest,” said TLA secretary Sam Marr.

The program was recently held in Toronto for a group of Grade 5 students. It included two mornings spent learning about the law and legal proceedings, followed by a full mock trial. The students took on the role of lawyers and witnesses, and worked with TLA lawyers to formulate their arguments.

“Our students have been very excited about this program and are learning a lot about how the justice system works,” said Joyce Public School teacher Chris Lee, who was involved in the program.

ACKHURST JOINS OGILVY RENAULT

Kevin Ackhurst is the newest member of Ogilvy Renault LLP’s business law group, joining the Toronto office’s competition/antitrust team.

He has experience advising on Canada’s competition and foreign investment laws in a wide range of industries.

FIRM MOURNS FOUNDER

Staff at London, Ont., firm McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP expressed sadness last week at the passing oif its founding member, Angus McKenzie.

“Anyone who ever had the pleasure of meeting Angus never forgot the experience,” read a message posted on the firm’s web site. “His smile alone, with its warmth and beauty, was captivating. He enjoyed a fulfilling life with family and friends.

His enthusiasm was most evident serving as a member and active fundraiser for numerous charitable organizations in the community and surrounding area.”

McKenzie, who was 83 years old, attended Osgoode Hall Law School for his legal training and was called to the bar in 1953.

He was remembered as an exceptional model of public service and inspiration to his co-workers.

He leaves behind wife Jean and children Kate, Carol, and Ian.

LFO HONOURS BOROVOY

Canadian Civil Liberties Association general counsel Alan Borovoy has been named the recipient of the Law Foundation of Ontario’s Guthrie Award Medal.

“Throughout Mr. Borovoy’s illustrious 40-year career with CCLA, he has been an advocate for the rights and freedoms of people who might otherwise be denied them and has devoted extraordinary amounts of time and energy to enabling ordinary citizens to engage with justice issues,” said the LFO.

The award was created in 1996 in honour of former LFO chairman Donald Guthrie. Recipients are people or organizations that have shown great public service, made important contributions to access to justice, and demonstrate excellence in the legal profession.

Borovoy recently announced his retirement from the CCLA.

MCCARTHYS ADDS BUSINESS STRENGTH

McCarthy Tétrault LLP has added Joel Heard to its business law group. He will join the firm as a partner in its Toronto office.

“Joel will be a valuable adviseor to our energy, infrastructure, and project finance clients,” said the practice group’s leader David Woollcombe.

“His significant expertise and experience in construction, PPP, and other commercial projects will enhance our ability to offer highly tailored solutions for sophisticated projects and transactions.”

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