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Monday, October 28, 2013

ADR INSTITUTE HONOURING WINKLER SET TO OPEN

As Ontario Court of Appeal Chief Justice Warren Winkler prepares for retirement, Osgoode Hall Law School is getting set to establish a dispute resolution institute in his honour.

The opening of the Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution, a centre focused on developing new approaches to dispute resolution, will coincide with Winkler’s retirement this year.

“The Winkler Institute for Dispute Resolution is intended both to be a lasting tribute to Chief Justice Winkler’s outstanding service to the justice system and to be a leader in developing and implementing new approaches to dispute resolution in the service of improving access to justice,” said Osgoode dean Lorne Sossin.

“As a law school with a long tradition of leadership in the dispute resolution field, we are tremendously excited about this initiative and honoured that the chief justice has agreed to lend his name to it. There are numerous Osgoode faculty and students whose work will fit within and be enhanced by the creation of this institute.”

Fundraising for the institute will continue throughout the fall. Funds collected for the centre currently stand at more than $2 million through a combination of donations from more than 40 law firms and individuals as well as York University.

JP CHALLENGES MISCONDUCT FINDING

Ontario justice of the peace Errol Massiah has filed a judicial review application challenging a Justices of the Peace Review Council decision that found him guilty of professional misconduct after six court staff accused him of sexual harassment.

Massiah’s notice of application claims that in its April 2012 decision, the hearing panel “erred in law and deprived the applicant of natural justice and fairness in the manner of the disposition of the allegations against him.”

The panel found Massiah guilty of misconduct after court staff accused him of making sexually suggestive comments, eying female court staff up and down, and, in one case, slapping someone’s buttocks.

Since then, five other female court staff members, including a prosecutor, have made further complaints about alleged inappropriate behaviour by Massiah.

For more, see "JP facing fresh sexual harassment allegations" and "JP accused of sexually harassing six court clerks."

CHAMPIONS OF WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP HONOURED

Three of Catalyst Inc.’s champions of women’s leadership in Canada are members of the legal profession.

McCarthy Tétrault LLP chairman and chief executive officer Marc-André Blanchard, Dentons Canada LLP partner Kate Broer, and Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP counsel Purdy Crawford made the list this year.

Catalyst honours leaders who have made efforts for the advancement of women in business.

“You can’t make change without champions leading the charge,” says Alex Johnston, executive director of Catalyst Canada. “It takes real courage to stand up, speak out, and shatter barriers and biases that can block women from leadership roles. These extraordinary champions have taken bold steps to transform the workplace for women, and inspired others to follow their lead. That’s how you create the ripple effect needed to make change stick, for today and future generations.”

POLL RESULTS

The results of the latest Law Times online poll are in.

The majority of respondents agree with former Supreme Court justice Ian Binnie that Canada should follow Australia’s lead in requiring other corroborative evidence beyond DNA in criminal cases.

Eighty-three per cent of respondents agreed that DNA should be conclusive only in the presence of other evidence. Among those who feel otherwise is one of the prosecutors in the O.J. Simpson case, Rockne Harmon, who told Law Times there are few cases where DNA evidence has led to a wrongful conviction.

LAW PROF RECEIVES PERSONS CASE AWARD

University of Ottawa law professor Constance Backhouse is one of the five recipients of the governor general’s award in commemoration of the persons case.

The award honours those who have made outstanding contributions to the quality of life for women in Canada.

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the Famous Five, who successfully persevered in an effort to strengthen women's rights in Canada,” said Kellie Leitch, minister for the status of women.

“Today, we honour the generations of women who have followed in their footsteps to bring equality to women and girls.”

Backhouse has written books on women and the law and teaches on the topic as well. She has also helped establish several women’s education and research organizations.

Backhouse’s “unshakable commitment to gender equality and social justice has helped make Canada a better place for women and girls,” the minister said in a press release.

CHIP O’CONNOR TO RECEIVE LINDEN AWARD

Kingston lawyer Chip O’Connor is this year’s recipient of Legal Aid Ontario’s Sidney B. Linden award.

The award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to access to justice for low-income Ontarians.

O’Connor is the lawyer who convinced the Supreme Court that prisoners should have a right to vote. He has also argued infavour of applying the R. v. Gladue principles to long-term offenders.

“This award recognizes Chip’s dedication to providing legal services to prisoners at every level of the courts, often pro bono,” said LAO board chairman John McCamus.

“These are individuals who are normally ostracized and have no resources at all. In speaking for the incarcerated, Chip’s contribution to our justice system has been huge — from the students who have taken his courses in our law schools, to the criminal lawyers he has mentored, to the country’s top judges who have heard his arguments all the way to the Supreme Court.”

REVIEW COUNCIL SUGGESTS JP’S REMOVAL

An Ontario Justices of the Peace Review Council hearing panel has recommended justice of peace Donna Phillips’ removal from office.

The case relates to an incident on March 30, 2012, in which Phillips “actively misled” Staff Sgt. William Berg in London, Ont. At the time, he was investigating her daughter, Mary Anne Kechego, on an alleged violation of the Highway Traffic Act.

“Her conduct in misleading Staff Sergeant Berg was so manifestly and profoundly destructive of the concept of the impartiality, integrity, and independence of the judicial role that public confidence would be sufficiently undermined so as to render her incapable of executing the judicial office,” wrote the hearing panel chaired by Paul Taylor in its Oct. 24 decision on disposition followings its findings of judicial misconduct on July 30, 2013.

The panel found that during Berg’s investigation of Kechego after stopping her for running a red light, Phillips claimed she didn’t know the driver well; said she was her niece; and confirmed her name was Titchner, something she knew to be false.

“There is no disagreement on the part of her worship that over the course of approximately one hour that Mary Anne Kechego misled Staff Sergeant Berg about her identity,” the panel noted last week. While Phillips denied she actively assisted her daughter in lying about her identity, the panel found otherwise despite noting she ultimately prevailed on Kechego to tell the truth.

Phillips’ counsel urged a 30-day suspension without pay along with remedial education, but the panel chose to recommend the attorney general remove her from office. “All judicial officers know they may be faced with the dilemma of supporting a family member or a friend at the cost of their judicial integrity,” the panel wrote.

“At the end of the day, all judicial officers know what they have to do: their integrity and their obligation to the administration of justice have to come first,” the decision continues.

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