Monday, November 17, 2014

The provincial government has appointed five lawyers as judges of the Ontario Court of Justice.

Frank Crewe, Kate Doorly, Stuart Konyer, Riun Shandler, and Gerri Wong are the latest additions to the provincial court bench and will begin their new roles Nov. 19.

Crewe, a former criminal lawyer in sole practice, taught advocacy at Osgoode Hall Law School and volunteered with the Ontario Justice Education Network. He’ll preside in Toronto.

Doorly is a Crown attorney who has held a variety of positions at the Ministry of the Attorney General over the past 23 years. A volunteer with the Lawyers Feed the Hungry program, she has also been an active fundraiser in her community. She, too, will preside in Toronto.

Konyer, a former criminal defence lawyer at May & Konyer Associates, was also president of the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa. He’ll preside in Lindsay, Ont.

Shandler worked as Crown counsel for the last 17 years and has taught mental health and criminal justice at Osgoode Hall Law School. He’ll sit in Toronto.
Wong managed her own law firm as a sole practitioner focusing on child protection matters. She has also practised family law and mediation in the past. A former member of the bench and bar committee for the Ontario Court, Wong taught at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law as well. She’ll preside in Chatham, Ont.

In an interesting decision on the distinction between bank robbery and theft, a Superior Court judge has found a man who told a bank teller to hand over cash committed theft but not robbery.

“When someone walks into a bank and hands a teller a note demanding money, it is usually considered to be a robbery. But in the unique circumstances of this case, it was just a theft,” wrote Justice Gary Trotter in R. v. Oliveiros Ortega.

Trotter found that due to the absence of any threats during the incident, there was no robbery.

The judge made that finding even though the accused, Jorge Luis Oliveiros Ortega, had approached the bank counter and displayed a note that said: “This is a robbery, give me the money, my mother is sick.”

When the teller hesitated, Ortega, speaking in a calm voice, said, “Give me the money.”

“The teller testified that, during the incident, she did not fear for her own safety, or that of anyone else,” wrote Trotter.

“She agreed that she gave the accused the money because he asked for it and also because she felt sorry for him, given that he looked so young and his mother was sick.”

Although the Crown argued the crime in this case shouldn’t be dependent on the subjective reaction of the victim, the judge said that just as the thin-skulled victim argument can advance a prosecution, a person’s resilience could assist the defence as well.

“Far from having a thin skull, the teller in this case had a thick skin. While others might have reasonably been frightened, she did not experience any fear at all. In these unique circumstances, a properly instructed jury, acting reasonably, could not find that there was an implied threat that was accompanied by a reasonable apprehension of harm. There was no robbery.”

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

The majority of respondents say they’re happy with the province’s recent changes to legal aid eligibility.

Last month, the provincial government announced $95.7 million in funding over three years to increase the eligibility threshold for certificates, duty counsel, and legal clinic services.

According to the poll, 54 per cent of respondents felt the announcement was great news as the changes are long overdue while the remaining participants felt there’s still a long way to go to ensuring people can get legal assistance.

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