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Monday, June 4, 2012

COURT TOSSES CASE AGAINST HAL MATTSON

The Superior Court of Justice has quashed an order committing criminal defence lawyer Hal Mattson for trial on a charge of attempting to obstruct justice.

Mattson was accused of trying to influence the testimony of a potential Crown witness prior to a hearing in an attempted murder case in 2010.

The Kitchener, Ont., lawyer was committed for trial following a preliminary hearing that included testimony from Tyson Holmes, the man Mattson allegedly counselled in 2010 during a case that involved five people charged with attempted murder and drug offences.

According to Her Majesty the Queen v. Mattson, Mattson allegedly counselled Holmes to not identify the principal accused in the matter by his street name, Chico.

But Superior Court Justice John Sproat ruled the allegation that Mattson had counselled Holmes would require “impermissible speculation” on the part of a judge.

“Clearly, Mattson knew something about the case against Hinojosa (the man accused along with Holmes of attempted murder in the 2010 case) and others,” wrote Sproat.

“There is, however, nothing in the evidence to suggest he knew about the content of Holmes’ statements to the police and the significance of the name Chico to the prosecution. To draw that inference would require impermissible speculation on the part of the trier of fact.”

Holmes received a one-year sentence for drug trafficking. The attempted murder charges against him were dropped.

Mattson didn’t represent anyone involved in the attempted murder case.

For more, see "Arrested lawyer decries police tactics."

DISBARRED LAWYER SENTENCED TO 14 DAYS

The Superior Court of Justice has sentenced disbarred lawyer Lee Fingold to 14 days in jail for contempt of an order that prevented him from acting as a lawyer or paralegal.

According to Law Society of Upper Canada v. Fingold, Fingold wrote a letter to try to resolve a suit brought by the Toronto-Dominion Bank against his friend, Beau Scott, in 2010.

In the letter, he referred to himself as a paralegal, contrary to an order against him by Justice Cary Boswell that same year that prevented him from acting as a lawyer or paralegal.

“In all the circumstances, I find that a fit and appropriate penalty is incarceration.

A short but sharp jail term is necessary to impress upon Mr. Fingold the seriousness of his contempt and, ultimately, how his contemptuous conduct is further rejected and denounced by the court,” wrote Superior Court Justice Guy DiTomaso.

“Both general and specific deterrence are primary factors in arriving at the appropriate penalty. Court orders are meant to be obeyed.”

Fingold was found guilty of 12 counts under the Provincial Offences Act last year for the unauthorized practice of law. He had been disbarred for misappropriating funds from his real estate practice 14 years prior.

SHIBLEY RIGHTON SNAGS TAX LAWYER

Tax lawyer Bernie Katchen has joined Shibley Righton LLP’s Toronto office as counsel.

Katchen was a member of the firm between 1979 and 1984 before creating tax-related entrepreneurial structures and returning to law in 2001.

“Bernie brings an entrepreneurial background along with extensive legal experience and will be a great addition to our team,” said Sandra Dawe, Shibley Righton’s managing partner.

“While effective tax planning always requires extensive knowledge of the Income Tax Act, Bernie’s experience from the business world will also be invaluable to us.”

ONTARIO ADULT COURT CASES RISE: STATSCAN

The number of cases completed in adult court increased by two per cent in Ontario between 2010 and 2011, a report by Statistics Canada shows.

The report notes the number of cases completed in adult courts declined in British Columbia by seven per cent and by six per cent in Alberta and Quebec. The number of cases in Saskatchewan, meanwhile, increased by five per cent.

Adult criminal courts in Canada completed nearly 403,000 cases between 2010 and 2011.

Of those, 77 per cent involved non-violent offences.

The report notes the courts’ caseload nationally was largely the same as the previous year following three consecutive annual increases.

NEW HEAD OF FEDERAL LAWYERS’ ASSOCIATION

The Association of Justice Counsel has named Lisa Blais its new president.

Blais, a lawyer in Ottawa for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, won the post by acclamation. She’ll serve in the role for five years.

Others on the association’s executive committee include Ed Bumburs as vice president of finance, Sid Restall as vice president of labour relations, Francis Descôteaux as vice president of communications, and Margaret McCabe as vice president of compensation and working conditions.

Blais succeeds Marco Mendicino in the president’s role.

NEW DIVERSITY DATABASE CREATED

The Canadian Board Diversity Council has created a diversity database for board of director positions at Canada’s top 500 organizations.

According to a press release by the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers, senior-level professionals can apply to be in the database before June 22.

The council’s goal is to increase the number of visible minorities, people with disabilities, women, aboriginals, and people from the gay and lesbian community who sit on Canada’s corporate boards.

An information session will take place on June 4 by teleconference.

For more information, see cabl.ca.

COMPLETED YOUTH CASES FALL: STATSCAN

The number of cases completed by youth courts in Canada between 2010 and 2011 fell in every province except Manitoba, Statistics Canada reports.

The largest decline in the number of cases occurred in Nova Scotia, where they fell by 15 per cent. By comparison, completed cases in Manitoba increased by three per cent from the previous year.

In Canada, youth courts completed roughly 52,900 cases between 2010 and 2011.

Some of the largest declines occurred in cases of fraud, mischief, and uttering threats. By comparison, the number of completed cases increased in the areas of criminal harassment, breach of probation, and failure to appear, according to the report released last week.

Roughly 60 per cent of completed cases in Canada involved older youth aged 16 to 17, the report noted. Males were involved in three-quarters of all cases. About 57 per cent of youth cases resulted in a finding of guilt.

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