Monday, February 8, 2016

The Ontario Human Rights Commission will be intervening in Roberts v. Toronto Police Services Board, an application before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that raises the issues of racial profiling and discriminatory use of force.

In December of 2014, Rohan Roberts was walking to a friend’s Christmas party in the Jane Street and Finch Avenue area of Toronto when he was approached by two Toronto Police Service officers. Roberts alleges that the officers demanded his identification and ran his information through several police databases. He alleges that following this, he was arrested, handcuffed, and dragged to a nearby grassy area and beaten. He sustained injuries that required treatment in hospital and charges of assaulting and threatening the police officers against him were subsequently dropped. Roberts asserts that he was the victim of racial profiling and discriminatory use of force based on race.

In a press release announcing the intervention, the OHRC said it will argue the case must be viewed in the context of the overrepresentation of African-Canadians in carding activities of the TPS and disproportionate use of force by police on African-Canadians.

OHRC chief commissioner Renu Mandhane stated in the release: “This case exemplifies how little progress has been made. We are now turning to legal action so that officers and administrators are held accountable. Racialized communities can’t wait any longer.”

Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP has announced the addition of 12 new partners across four of its Canadian offices, including three in Toronto.

Rahat Godil, who specializes in complex commercial litigation and international arbitrations and also has experience in class actions and constitutional litigation, joins the Toronto team along with David Rosner, whose expertise focuses on Canadian competition law and foreign investment law, and Elizabeth Sale, an expert on financial regulatory matters, including consumer protection and fintech.

The Law Foundation of Ontario has announced it is now accepting applications for its Ontario’s Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship program for both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic terms. Fellows are senior employees of public interest organizations and are funded up to a $50,000 maximum to attend an Ontario university, law school, or community college. The focus is on improving access to justice and provides an opportunity for professional development by undertaking research, teaching, or co-teaching new course material and mentoring. Candidates do not need to have a law degree, but they must be in a pubic interest organization dedicated to law reform, legal advocacy, or the justice system. The deadline for applications is April 29. Full details of the program and application process can be found on the foundation’s web site.

In the eyes of our readers, the James Forcillo verdict will look good to the general public, but only in glancing. Last week, we asked if people felt the verdict against Forcillo for attempted murder in the death of Sammy Yatim will improve the public’s perception of the justice system. Only 56.5 per cent of the respondents felt that yes, they believe the verdict will help restore public confidence and the conviction of attempted murder was fair in the circumstances. That left 43.5 per cent who said no, the verdict was not justified and will not enhance the way Canadians view the justice system nor those who work within it.

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