Monday, July 30, 2012

McCarthy Tétrault LLP partner Grant Buchanan is taking his expertise in the telecommunications field to Ryerson University as a distinguished visiting scholar.

Buchanan becomes a visiting scholar at the RTA School of Media in the faculty of communication and design as well as with the law and business program at the Ted Rogers School of Management.
"I am delighted to accept this appointment," said Buchanan.

"Having the opportunity to work with the students, faculty, and administration at Ryerson University is truly a fundamental element in creating real-life experiences that are vital to the growth of tomorrow's leaders."

During his one-year appointment, Buchanan will work with the deans of the faculty and the school in a number of advisory and scholarly roles related to special projects and assignments. This includes ongoing work related to Ryerson's application for an FM radio licence.

Ontario saw a marked decline in violent crime last year, Statistics Canada is reporting.

The violent crime severity index dropped five per cent in 2011 over the previous year, the federal agency noted in a release on police-reported crime statistics last week. For Canada as a whole, the index dropped six per cent. The biggest decline provincially was in Newfoundland, where the index fell by 15 per cent.

Overall, police services reported two million Criminal Code incidents, excluding traffic matters, in 2011, according to Statistics Canada. That was about 110,000 fewer incidents than in 2010. The drop occurred for most offences, including attempted murder, major assaults, sexual assaults, robbery, break-ins, and vehicle theft.

But some offences saw an increase. They included homicides, sexual offences against children, child pornography, criminal harassment, impaired driving, and most drug offences. But while the homicide rate increased by seven per cent in 2011, the severity indexes declined for both violent and overall crime.

The result of last week's Law Times online poll are in.

Eighty-seven per cent of respondents said their law firm offers flat fees or other alternative-billing options to their clients. The poll followed a Law Times story that indicated corporate counsel are likely to step up the pressure on firms to offer alternative-billing arrangements.

Three seasoned Ottawa lawyers will act as counsel to the commissioner of the inquiry looking into the collapse of an Elliot Lake, Ont., shopping mall that claimed the lives of two people and injured 20 others last month.

Justice Paul Bélanger, commissioner of the Elliot Lake inquiry, announced last week that Peter K. Doody, Bruce Carr-Harris, and Mark Wallace will serve as the three lead counsel. Doody and Carr-Harris are partners with the Ottawa office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Wallace is a partner at the Ottawa criminal law firm Carroll & Wallace.

The independent public inquiry into the collapse of the Algo Centre Mall will look at the cause of the collapse and the rescue effort. Lucie Aylwin, 37, and Doloris Perizzolo, 74, died and 20 other people were injured after part of the mall's roof crashed into the shopping centre on June 23.

"We're to find out how the collapse happened and why, then look at the history of it compared to the regulatory structure and policies that are supposed to govern those kind of structures," said Carr-Harris, who will serve as the commission spokesman.

The three lawyers will also examine the rescue effort and how it measured up against standards and make any recommendations they feel are necessary.

"The challenge in a construction collapse like this is to find out what happened. We really don't know what happened, all we have seen is what's been in the media. There is also the concern about the rescue mission so we're going to have to look at that, too," he said.
The terms of reference of the inquiry indicate it could take up to 18 months if necessary.

Calling one aspect of the disciplinary decision against him "an absurd result" and "an error of law that urgently requires correction," Joe Groia filed his notice of appeal last week of last month's civility ruling against him by the Law Society of Upper Canada.

In his notice, Groia is asking to set aside the June 28 finding of professional misconduct against him in relation to his handling of the defence of former Bre-X Minerals Ltd. vice chairman John Felderhof on allegations of insider trading and issuing false or misleading statements.

Those proceedings, which featured fierce legal debates between Groia and prosecutors for the Ontario Securities Commission, resulted in critical judicial comment in obiter against Groia that sparked the law society's disciplinary action for incivility.

Among the criticisms of the LSUC ruling, Groia's appeal notice counters the law society's assertions that he was attempting to relitigate allegations made against him during those earlier court proceedings by trying to defend himself against the charges of professional misconduct.

The hearing panel, the notice of appeal asserts, acknowledged that Groia wasn't actually a party to those earlier court proceedings since they related to Felderhof's trial.

The panel, he alleges, "made a serious error of law by creating a new and unprecedented basis for its finding that there would be an abuse of process if the lawyer was permitted to defend the allegations in this proceeding," the appeal notice states.

"It created a new and unprecedented legal fiction of a 'party in substance.' In effect, the panel concluded that the lawyer, as a 'party in substance,' was abusively relitigating the issues that had been before the courts by defending himself in these proceedings. This conclusion resulted in the failure of the panel to consider and give effect to the defence mounted by the lawyer and was a failure of natural justice."

As a result, the appeal notice alleges, the panel assumed Groia had the right to appeal the court rulings at the Supreme Court of Canada and that he should have done so even though it would have placed him in a conflict of interest in relation to his client.

"This is an absurd result and is an error of law that urgently requires correction," the notice states.

The notice also makes repeated reference to the broader issue of civility versus lawyers' duty to defend their clients with vigour. It raises alarm, for example, about the panel's finding that, as an officer of the court, he had an overriding duty to ensure the trial took place fairly and efficiently and in an atmosphere of calm.

"The lawyer had no such 'overriding' duty, nor does any counsel," the appeal notice asserts. "There can be no more alarming statement than for a law society to suggest that there is now an overriding duty on any defence counsel to sacrifice his or her client's substantive or procedural rights on the altar of 'efficiency' and calmness."

Groia is seeking four results from the appeal: dismissal of the LSUC's 2009 notice of application against him; an order that he didn't engage in professional misconduct; that a new hearing take place in the alternative before a different panel; and costs to him.

For its part, the law society rebutted some of the criticisms in a note on the case on its web site last week. "In its decision, the hearing panel confirms for the profession that zealous advocacy and civility are compatible," the posting states.

"The decision adds to the law society's jurisprudence about what constitutes incivility and provides insight into the expectations of licensees in relation to the administration of justice and their behavior in the court."

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