The Top 25 Most Influential - Criminal/Human Rights Law

  • Subtitle: Cover Story
Written by  Posted Date: August 3, 2015


The Top 25 Most InfluentialDennis Edney and Nate Whitling
Defence counsel, Edmonton, Alta.

In a rare move, Edney and Whitling are being named as Top 25 honourees as a team. Both have spent more than a decade advocating for Omar Khadr, almost universally on a pro bono basis. From Guantanamo Bay to the Supreme Court of Canada (three times), the unlikely duo have fought for Khadr to have him released from prison (success in May), have him treated as a child soldier, and otherwise continue to battle for his legal rights at home and abroad. It’s been what the Globe and Mail called waging “a war of legal attrition against the government,” which has consistently done everything to paint Khadr as a dangerous terrorist who should be kept behind bars. Edney, a former soccer player who only started practising law at 40, has been the public and media face of the continuing legal battles, even taking Khadr into his own home after he was recently released on bail.  Whitling, a Harvard law grad and former SCC clerk, is a much more quiet and reserved force behind the scenes.

What voters had to say:

“Dennis has gone above and beyond the call of duty in his defence of Omar Khadr. The nobility of our profession depends on lawyers like Dennis as we are sometimes called upon to defend unpopular people or entities — but people who are no less deserving of natural justice and procedural fairness.” 

Whitling is an “intelligent and highly effective advocate who stays out of the limelight.” He is a “fantastic lawyer. Exceptionally intelligent and excellent to work with.”

The Top 25 Most InfluentialRocco Galati
Rocco Galati Law Firm PC, Toronto, Ont.

Rocco Galati is famous for being a one-man opposition to the present government, so far spending $42,000 of his own money on court challenges. He successfully launched a case that blocked Stephen Harper’s appointment of Justice Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court of Canada. His opposition to the appointment of Federal Court of Appeal Justice Robert Mainville to the Quebec Court of Appeal was not as successful. While he doesn’t always win, Galati is dogged in his efforts to defend the Constitution against a government he sees as pushing the boundaries with a lack of respect for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He’s now also been elected as bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and it will be interesting to see what he brings to the regulation of the profession.

What voters had to say: “A true Canadian constitutional and human rights hero.”

The Top 25 Most InfluentialMarie Henein
Senior partner, Henein Hutchison LLP, Toronto, Ont.

Considered one of Canada’s best criminal defence lawyers, Henein is known for representing high-profile clients including former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi — charged with seven counts of sexual assault, of which two have already been dropped — former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant, and junior hockey coach David Frost. Most recently Henein has taken on the case of defence counsel colleague Leora Shemesh, who was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice by Peel Police. Henein is well known in the profession as a go-to lawyer for all high-profile criminal matters. She has an excellent track record of wins versus losses and was part of the team that recently was victorious in having John Salmon’s conviction in a 1970s murder overturned.

What voters had to say:

“Most visible leader of [the] criminal defence bar.”

The Top 25 Most InfluentialFrank Iacobucci
Senior counsel, Torys LLP, Toronto, Ont.

This retired justice has set the bar for police treatment of the mentally ill. His 2014 landmark report outlined 84 sound ways of helping to prevent shooting of mentally ill people by the Toronto Police. The implementation of the report would go a long way toward avoiding disastrous confrontations between police and emotionally disturbed individuals. Some of the recommendations include the use of body-worn cameras and optimized use of tasers. The report is a powerful message that the status quo is no longer acceptable. As a Torys counsel, Iacobucci is used to advising government and business on important legal and policy

What voters had to say:

“Has anyone really done more?” and “Energetic, never stops.”

The Top 25 Most InfluentialLorne Waldman

Waldman & Associates, Toronto, Ont.

Waldman is a great defender of refugees, immigrants, and human rights. He has won a number of important victories, including health care for refugees in Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care v. Canada and a woman’s right to wear the niqab while making her citizenship oath in Ishaq v. Canada with his associate Naseem Mithoowani. He also argued at the Supreme Court of Canada in J.P. v. Canada and G.J. v. Canada, that Canada’s anti-human smuggling provisions should include asylum seekers engaging in mutual assistance. Along with Peter Edelmann, he acted on behalf of the CBA in the Harkat case before the SCC in 2014. On the international stage, he represents Mohamed Fahmy (alongside Amal Clooney), the Canadian journalist working for Al Jazeera. He has also been a vocal opponent of Bill C-51 and changes to Canada’s citizenship law.

What voters had to say:

“Lorne reminded us all, especially now, to preserve democracy and to preserve the rule of law.”

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0 # J 2017-08-10 11:49
Jean-Pierre Blais is one of the lawyer I admire, I really love his work like the rights of consumers.
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0 # President and CEO Independent Sports Advisory services! Mediation/arbitration/Financial Mattersjames Francis Regan 2017-02-12 09:30
On a snowy Sunday Morning any committed lawyer should run 20 K just to stay on top of their game!!! Amazing inner strength here!!! Dodging that snow takes lots of hard work! Congratulations Ms. Dellandrea!!
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-15 # M.Francois Godere 2016-02-04 02:56
This message is meant for M. Henein. As a woman you should be ashamed to defend Mr. Gomeshi and denigrate the victims with your unreasonable cross examination. I am certain that you would not feel the same way should it be someone in your family or close to you who would have suffered abuse like these women have. You are a soulless person and you should not help this abuser get away with his crimes.
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0 # Ignorant postMichael Cohen 2017-07-13 14:16
Why does Ms. Henein's gender matter when the sole responsibility of a hired lawyer is to best represent their client in the most effective manner possible? Keep your feminism out o this discussion. She did her job very well otherwise Mr. Ghomeshi would be behind bars right now. Sure, morality does play a role in the law but a lawyer's sole duty is to their client. Should Ms. Henein or any other women that defended Mr. Ghomeshi just say the hell with it, he is my client but I don't like him so I'll just lose on purpose? That's professional and ethical suicide and can lead to your licence being cancelled.

Marie Henein was not a bystander watching this case from the outside as you are. She was hired to do her job and she did it fine. If the opposition had stronger evidence then she would not have won. Learn about the justice system before you make such ignorant remarks.
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Gail J. Cohen

One of Canada’s most experienced and respected legal journalists, Gail J. Cohen is the former editor in chief of Canadian Lawyer and Law Times, who was 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 covered the legal profession in Canada as a reporter and editor since 1997, which had put 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.

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