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ST. JOHN’S — Federal Court of Canada Chief Justice Paul Crampton is pushing back against suggestions of bias in the government’s favour following Justice Marc Nadon’s failed nomination to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Monday, 25 August 2014 08:00

CLA concerned about duty counsel expansion

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If Legal Aid Ontario has the money to hire more duty counsel, it should also invest in private-bar services through certificates, according to the Criminal Lawyers’ Association.
The long, nasty summer Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Justice Minister Peter MacKay spent attacking Canadian courts and the judiciary is almost over now.
The profession will be eagerly watching as the Divisional Court hearing into Trinity Western University’s application for judicial review of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s dubious refusal to accredit its proposed law school gets underway in December.
As a Toronto lawyer is facing a Law Society of Upper Canada investigation over $15 million in buyers’ missing property deposit fees after she transferred the money to the developer even though the transactions hadn’t closed and the project wasn’t complete.
Longevity insurance and swaps are currently enjoying heightened attention as a de-risking mechanism for defined-benefit pension plans.
The province has appointed five new judges to the Ontario Court of Justice.

Jill Copeland, Karen Lische, Kevin McHugh, Paul Monahan, and Peter Andras Schreck will take office effective Aug. 27.

Copeland was a partner at Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP and worked as an executive legal officer at the Supreme Court of Canada prior to now. She’ll preside in Brampton, Ont.

Lische, who worked as an assistant Crown attorney for the Ministry of the Attorney General for the last 13 years, previously practised family law at Miller Maki. She’ll preside in Sudbury, Ont.

McHugh, a criminal lawyer for 14 years, will take his post in Walkerton, Ont., this week.

Monahan, a partner at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP for the past 19 years, is a litigator as well as a mediator and arbitrator. He’ll sit in Brampton along with Schreck, a partner at Schreck Presser LLP. Schreck is a criminal lawyer who has taught evidence law at Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.

Justice of the Peace Alfred Johnston has received a seven-day suspension without pay and is to apologize following a penalty decision in his misconduct case.

A panel of the Justices of the Peace Review Council found Johnston used a “mocking” and “sarcastic” tone when a defendant, Alex Leaf, couldn’t properly pronounce a case he was referring to while representing himself in court. In its decision last week, the panel ordered Johnston to apologize in writing to Leaf. He was also under fire for dismissing a slew of cases over a prosecutor’s tardiness.

“The misconduct in this instance was serious. It struck at the heart of the administration of justice, and in the public confidence attached to it,” wrote the panel chaired by Ontario Court Justice Marjoh Agro. “Warnings, reprimands, education or treatment are simply insufficient or inapplicable to remedy the misconduct.”

The finding left the panel with the option of suspension, with or without pay, or recommending Johnston’s removal from office.

“A recommendation that a judicial officer be removed from office is a severe sanction. In our view, it should only be ordered where no other combination of sanctions could reasonably achieve the overriding objective,” the panel said.

Although he initially defended his actions in dismissing 68 charges, Johnston later admitted both incidents constituted misconduct. In a letter of apology he wrote to the review council, Johnston said he had been going through a divorce and ill health at the time of the incidents.

“I was suffering from a great degree of stress, but did not seek out assistance,” he wrote. “I am very much a private person and did not feel comfortable sharing my struggles with others. Instead, I attempted to resolve these issues personally. This approach led me to become even more isolated and upset with my circumstances.”

But to the panel, Johnston’s apology was a little too late. “Indeed, there is no evidence that His Worship expressed regret or apologized for any of his actions in his responses to the complaints or prior to June 9th, 2014,” the panel wrote.

In one of the complaints, Leaf, a courier driver, was defending himself on a charge of using a handheld device when he couldn’t pronounce the name of the R. v. Askov case. According to review council presenting counsel Marie Henein, Johnston’s response was “intemperate, mocking, and sarcastic, which was wholly unnecessary.”

For more, see "JP has change of heart, admits misconduct in tossing 68 charges."

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

According to the poll, the majority of participants say Justice Minister Peter MacKay should have attended the Canadian Bar Association’s recent annual conference in St. John’s.

About 79 per cent of respondents said MacKay should have attended the conference and spoken to attendants as per tradition. When invited to the conference, the minister sent his regrets to the CBA after citing a scheduling conflict. It was the first time a Canadian justice minister had missed the conference in recent memory.

A Law Society of Upper Canada hearing panel has allowed a Toronto lawyer to surrender his licence to practise law after finding he knowingly participated in real estate fraud.

David Hugh Molson assisted fraudulent conduct by his vendor, purchaser, and refinancing clients in connection to 12 transactions, the panel found. He also failed to “conduct himself in such a way as to maintain the integrity of the profession,” according to the panel.

The panel also ordered Molson to pay $35,000 in costs to the law society.
Monday, 18 August 2014 08:00

New duty counsel not public defenders: LAO

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Legal Aid Ontario is vigorously denying that a spate of hiring new duty counsel who are reportedly handling minor trial matters is a move towards a public-defender system.
ST. JOHN’S — A sustainable legal profession will involve the ability to sell law firm shares to non-lawyers and lawyers rubbing shoulders with other professionals at work, according to the final report of the Canadian Bar Association’s Legal Futures initiative that looked at ways the industry must change to remain relevant.
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Law Times poll

Do you agree with Legal Aid Ontario's move to expand duty counsel services?
Yes, LAO needs to find a way to increase services and provide them more efficiently.
No, LAO should be doing more to work with the private bar.