Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Legal Aid Boycott: What Exactly is Being Boycotted and By Whom?


2171313087_82951c4fa2Not to help justice in her need would be an impiety. - Plato

Since the Legal Aid Ontario Boycott implemented by the Criminal Lawyer’s Association Members and further strengthen by support by the criminal bar at large, there has been wide coverage by media and interest by the public at large.  This issue of of critical importance to our justice system at large; without an equal balance between the participants, there can be no justice.  The entire notion of justice is premised on fairness, equality, and access.  Without proper funding for less fortunate individuals charged with offences, the entire structure of the justice system is unstable and threatens the rule of law at large.

In discussing the reasons for accepting the boycott, many have asked me what exactly is being boycotted and by whom.  So to answer those questions,

The boycott is as follows:

1. Where the lawyer is a member of the LAO ESM panel or is qualified to become a member of the ESM panel, AND

2. where the certificate is for the defence of an individual who is charged with

(a)   murder or attempted murder, OR

(b)   as the result of an investigation by the "guns and gangs" squad and/or is being prosecuted by the "guns and gangs" team, OR (c)  where the certificate is for representation on an appeal against conviction and/or sentence for any of the aforementioned offences, AND

3. where the prosecution of the individual is to take place in the one of the following cities or nearby municipalities: Toronto, Thunder Bay, Kingston, Barrie, Sudbury and Hamilton, or, in the case of an appeal, where the trial took place within the aforementioned jurisdictions OR where the lawyer's office is located within one of the aforementioned jurisdictions, AND

4. where the individual was arrested on or after the following dates or, in the case of an appeal, where the individual was sentenced on or after the following dates: In the case of Toronto, June 1, 2009, for Thunder Bay and Kingston, June 17, 2009 and for Barrie, Sudbury and Hamilton, July 1, 2009.

5. It remains CLA policy that all members should refuse any appointment by a court to act as counsel in any circumstances where fees are to be paid by the Crown at Legal Aid rates (e.g. amicus, O'Connor applications, etc.) in any jurisdiction and in relation to any matter.

Here is a collection of all the media releases that I have come across relating to the Legal Aid boycott:

Guelph lawyers join Ontario legal aid boycott - Guelph Mercury - ‎Jul 4, 2009‎

Legal aid boycott gathering strength – Kirk Makin, Globe and Mail, July 4, 2009

Legal aid boycott grows - ‎Jul 3, 2009‎

Lawyers join legal aid boycott Hamilton Spectator - ‎Jul 3, 2009‎

Lawyers join legal aid boycott Hamilton Spectator - ‎Jul 3, 2009‎

Law profs say legal aid Ontario weak – June 29, 2009

Law Professors Support Legal Aid boycott – Globe and Mail, Kirk Makin, June 28, 2009

Local lawyers boycotting legal aid - Belleville Intelligencer, June 20

More lawyers join boycott of legal aid - The Globe and Mail, 16 Jun 2009, Kirk Makin

Sudbury lawyers to boycott legal aid plan – North Bay Nugget, June 16, 2009

Local lawyers ponder joining boycott – Kingston Whig Standard, June 15, 2009 | Ontario | Lawyers throw weight behind legal aid boycott – June 14, 2009

Ontario’s Legal Aid impasses requires compromises – Orangeville Citizen, June 11, 2009

Criminal lawyers protest Legal Aid fees - The Sudbury Star, June 10, 2009

The System is Broken – Law Times, June 8, 2009

Who are they kidding? Lawyers love legal aid – Christie Blatchford, Globe and Mail, June 6, 2009

CBC Current Show on Announcement by The Criminal Lawyer's Association to commence boycott – June 3, 2009

Toronto criminal lawyers threaten boycott unless legal aid rates rise –, June 2, 2009

Support the Legal Aid increase by calling your MPP today.

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