A sensational Toronto murder trial this week is drawing attention to the issue of self-represented defendants in the court and their ability to cross-examine witnesses in sensitive circumstances. In this case, Dellen Millard has chosen to represent himself in the murder of Laura Babcock, a 23-year-old Toronto woman and Millard’s purported girlfriend, who disappeared in 2012.
In court last week, Millard cross-examined Babcock’s father as well as a former boyfriend on the witness stand. The ability for Millard, Babcock’s accused killer, to conduct his own cross-examinations of the victim’s close family members raises questions about the viability of applications under s. 486.3(2) of the Criminal Code.
That subsection stipulates, “In any proceedings against an accused, on application of the prosecutor or a witness, the accused shall not personally cross-examine the witness if the judge or justice is of the opinion that . . . the accused should not personally cross-examine the witness.”
As the Babcock case is before the courts, the Crown was not able to confirm that such an application had been made. But a Toronto defence lawyer say it was certainly called for in this case.
“In my view, a 486.3 application is mandated here,” says Toronto defence lawyer David Butt, who previously worked as a Crown prosecutor for 13 years. He also says “it would have been a good idea if . . . the judge granted it.”
HIGH PAY AND HEALTH OUTCOMES
The more lawyers get paid, the more likely they are to experience depression, dissatisfaction with their career choice and work-life balance conflict.
In a presentation at the Action Group on Access To Justice’s Access to Justice Week, University of Toronto sociology professors Ronit Dinovitzer and PhD student Jonathan Koltai discussed their recent work and the imperative for the legal community to meet challenges it faces in mental health. In the presentation, the sociologists said lawyers experience higher risk of mental illness and addiction.
A concert organizer who accused a Superior Court of Justice judge of offending his indigenous culture when he ruled against him had his appeal dismissed last week, with the ruling going in favour of Jann Arden and her talent agencies.
The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed Jean-Paul Gauthier’s appeal.
Gauthier had sued Jann Arden, The Feldman Agency and Bruce Allen Talent Agency after illness prevented Arden from playing at the Harvest Picnic Festival near Hamilton.
LAW TIMES POLL
In this week’s poll, the Law Society of Upper Canada is requiring all licensed lawyers to write a statement of principles acknowledging their obligation to promote equality, diversity and inclusion.
We asked readers if they agreed with this measure.
Eighty-nine per cent said no, this was heavy-handed and overbearing.
Eleven per cent said yes, this will encourage better equality, diversity and inclusion in the profession.