Monday, October 24, 2011

Law Society of Upper Canada Bencher Gerald Swaye will pick up the Hamilton Law Association’s Emilius Irving Award at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club on Oct. 27.

The association awards the honour, named for its first president, for outstanding service to the legal community by one of its members.

The Law Society of Upper Canada has barred Ontario lawyer Robert Martyn from relitigating his fraud conviction in Bermuda at a disciplinary hearing.
Martyn received a suspended jail sentence in 2005 following his conviction for conspiring to fraudulently obtain Bermudian status, a form of citizenship in the British overseas territory. Authorities granted him the status on the strength of doctored birth and marriage certificates that falsely traced his family roots to the island.

At a hearing this year, his lawyer argued that by relying on the conviction, the LSUC would be denying Martyn, who didn’t testify at his trial, the right to defend himself against allegations that he engaged in conduct unbecoming. He also raised concerns about the jury selection process and said Martyn didn’t have the choice of a trial by judge alone.

But in an Oct. 7 decision, a law society panel held that the conviction and a summary of facts laid out by the Court of Appeal for Bermuda as it dismissed Martyn’s appeal could be relied upon.

“Based upon the facts of this case, in the hearing panel’s view, it would be an abuse of process to allow relitigation,” wrote panel chairman Gerald Swaye, who noted that senior counsel represented Martyn at his criminal trial and in his appeals and that the Crown had met a higher burden of proof than would be necessary at a law society hearing.

“After reviewing the Court of Appeal reasons in regard to this matter, the hearing panel is satisfied that the lawyer was given a fair trial.”

Unrepresented respondents facing enforcement proceedings at the Ontario Securities Commission will now be able to get free legal advice from volunteer lawyers with expertise in the area under a new litigation assistance program.

During the one-year pilot, respondents can apply for legal help to get through pre-hearing conferences, settlement conferences, and hearings on sanctions and costs. However, the program won’t provide complete coverage for an entire proceeding and is subject to counsel availability and conflict-of-interest screening.

The program was conceived and developed by James Camp of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP, Gillian Dingle of Torys LLP, and Usman Sheikh of the OSC’s enforcement branch.

According to the commission, about 70 per cent of respondents are unrepresented.
“We welcome this pilot program and appreciate the effort and co-operation demonstrated by the bar and OSC enforcement staff in helping to bring this initiative to fruition,” said John Stevenson, secretary to the commission.

Former attorney general Michael Bryant is writing a memoir about his fatal encounter with a cyclist in 2009 and his subsequent journey through the justice system.

The book, 28 Seconds, is set for release next fall by publisher Penguin Canada.
Bryant was charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving after a confrontation with Darcy Sheppard. The charges were eventually dropped.

“There is an untold story within this tragedy, and I wanted to share that story,” said Bryant. “It’s important to pass along lessons learned regarding our justice system. I’m ready to speak to these very personal issues.”

Since the incident, Bryant has left public life to work as a senior adviser at Norton Rose OR LLP. “What really attracted me to this book was the unflinching description of one man’s descent into a kind of hell,” said Diane Turbide, Penguin Canada’s publishing director.

“He has been humbled by what happened, but more important, wants to rededicate himself to public service and to overhaul the justice system. And he has never lost sight of the fact that a man died.”

For more information, see "Ont. lawyer in trouble over Bermuda conviction."

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