The Top 25 Most Influential - Page 3
- Subtitle: Cover Story
CRIMINAL/HUMAN RIGHTS LAW
Justice Morris Fish
Justice, Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa
Justice Morris Fish has been a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada since 2003, but his tenure is coming to an end — he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 in 2013. As a recent Globe and Mail profile suggests, in recent years he has become the court’s lone champion of the rights of the accused, increasingly finding himself in dissent. He has not been shy in criticizing his colleagues. In the 2007 case R. v. Singh, Fish chastised the majority for eroding the right to silence. In R. v. Morelli, he appreciated the tremendous capacity of modern technology to assist the state in intruding upon individuals’ privacy rights. “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to imagine a search more intrusive, extensive, or invasive of one’s privacy than the search and seizure of a personal computer.” Fish is a team player but not afraid to use his powers of persuasion on the issues that matter to him, particularly when they affect the rights of the accused.
What voters had to say: “His lone voice in this delicate issue [of accuseds’ rights] will be missed when he leaves the court.”
Partner, Arvay Finlay, Vancouver
One of Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential in 2010 and 2011, Joseph Arvay continues to push the boundaries. His most recent success was arguing and winning at the British Columbia Supreme Court that the Criminal Code provisions prohibiting assisted suicide were unconstitutional. He is also the lawyer who fought the federal government and won in the Insite injection case at the Supreme Court of Canada last fall. This past year he was awarded the B.C. Civil Liberties’ inaugural Liberty Award for legal advocacy in service of human rights and civil liberties. He continues to take on some of the most socially complex and divisive cases in Canada, making way for change and improving the lives of Canadians, especially those on the edges of society.
What voters had to say: “Can’t say enough wonderful things about this compassionate and excellent advocate.”
Nathalie Des Rosiers
General counsel and executive director, Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Toronto
Last year, Nathalie Des Rosiers was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential in the in-house counsel category but remains on the list this year in a new category. In being named to the Order of Ontario in January, she was described as: “a legal expert who has made groundbreaking efforts to ensure that victims of child sexual abuse get compensation for their injuries.” Since joining the CCLA in 2009, Des Rosiers has boosted its reach and influence in the fight against government abuse and supporting individual rights. She continues to hold governments and lawmakers accountable for actions ranging from mass arrests and solitary confinement to DNA testing and the Charter rights of immigrants.
What the panel had to say: “Always at the forefront of the efforts to ensure Canadians’ civil liberties are respected.”
Criminal lawyer, William Trudell Professional Corp./Simcoe Chambers, Toronto
Trudell has been a vital and indispensable part of two national endeavours, on the justice system and access to justice, particularly on the criminal side. As its chairman, he regularly represents the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers before Parliament and is always ready to address issues of legislative change and the health of our system of justice. He is a tireless advocate for both protection of our criminal justice system and its reform with a particular passion about the issue of mental illness and addressing those with mental illness who appear in our criminal courts. On this, he has been very vocal in relation to the government’s recent omnibus crime bill.
What voters had to say: “Bill effects change by his quiet, consistent articulation
of why change is needed and how change can be effective.”
Associate professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto
On the Top 25 since its inception, Alan Young’s case for the legalization of prostitution wins another victory and marches on to the country’s top court. He has brought constitutional challenges to Canada’s gambling, obscenity, bawdy-house, and drug laws and for more than a decade has provided free legal services for people whose alternative lifestyles have brought them into conflict with the law. He is also the director of the Osgoode Hall Innocence Project, which involves LLB students in the investigation of suspected cases of wrongful conviction and imprisonment. He played a major role in compelling the federal government to take action to recognize the medicinal values of marijuana through his representation of countless people suffering from AIDS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis who had been charged as a result of using marijuana for medicinal purposes.
What the panel had to say: “Young continues unabated in his fight for the
underdogs in society.”
Next: Top 5 in Government/Non-profits/Regulators/Associations
One of Canada’s most experienced and respected legal journalists, Gail J. Cohen is the editorial director of Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, responsible for the editorial direction of all the publications in the group, which also includes Candian Lawyer InHouse, Canadian Lawyer 4Students, and the daily Legal Feeds blog. Gail has been covering the legal profession in Canada as a reporter and editor since 1997, putting her in a prime position to access and engage thought leaders in the regulatory, legal, and business realms. Canadian Lawyer and its editorial team have been the recipients of many journalism awards and their publications are highly respected throughout the legal profession in Canada and abroad.