Legal Feeds Blog
Ontario court rules that condo common areas subject to privacy rights, Canadian Press
Canadian law firm Gowlings merging with U.K. firm Wragge Lawrence Graham to form Gowling WLG, Canadian Press
Quebec government seeks ruling on constitutionality of creation of national securities regulator, Canadian Press
Former MF Global Holdings Ltd. officials reach lawsuit settlement, Reuters
Civil rights activists sue Chicago suburbs over gun-control issues, Reuters
Myanmar men accused of murder of British tourists on trial, Reuters
Iraqi court sentences people to death over killing of hundreds of Shi'ite soldiers, Reuters
|John Williamson is taking on a two-year term as dean of law at UNB while the university conducts a search for another replacement.|
According to a spokesperson for UNB, a search for the next dean will take place during the two-year term.
Past dean, Dr. Jeremy Levitt, resigned voluntarily in March. At the time the university said he was on “research leave” until the end of July, so as to allow him to “complete ongoing research activities and speaking engagement commitments on behalf of the university.”
Levitt, who was hired last summer and went on leave in January, left UNB “in order to return to, and help advance, his home institution in Florida following completion of those commitments.”
Williamson has been with UNB’s faculty of law for more than 40 years. He spent nearly 20 years in leadership roles in the faculty, including associate dean, acting dean, and interim dean. It’s his first time in the top job.
Prior to joining UNB in 1974, Williamson obtained a bachelor of business administration and law degrees at UNB and an LLM at Harvard University. His primary teaching and research areas are debtor-creditor law, bankruptcy and receivership and commercial law.
UNB joins several other law schools across the country that are currently looking for new deans, including the University of Windsor, University of Saskatchewan College of Law, and the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University.
Williamson’s two-year term began July 1.
Federal government drops Supreme Court CSIS overseas spying appeal, Canadian Press
Sleeping man who admitted to raping a sleeping woman wins a new trial, Canadian Press
Calgary man charged for flying in balloon rigged chair, Canadian Press
Former Goldman Sachs programmer wins dismissal of second criminal conviction, Reuters
U.S. appeals court upholds decision to strike down Puerto Rican bankruptcy law, Reuters
School teachers among people arrested for promoting Islamic State, Reuters
International judge resigns from U.N.-backed war crimes trials in Cambodia, Reuters
- Tragedy also strikes law office in Terrebonne, Que.
|Winnipeg police have charged Guido Amsel in connection with the bombing that seriously injured lawyer Maria Mitousis.|
Police, in fact, told the news conference they were investigating another scene at a Canada Post depot this morning and have issued a warning for people to watch for other incidents. The package turned out to contain only DVDs, reported the Winnipeg Free Press.
“Police are concerned that other packages could have been sent out to other legal counsel or justice officials who have dealt with Amsel,” the Winnipeg Police Service said in a news release yesterday.
“Police are asking those individuals to be aware and diligent in alerting police to any suspicious packages or items that may be addressed to them.”
The warning follows Friday’s explosion at the law offices of Petersen King on River Avenue that left lawyer Maria Mitousis, 38, with serious injuries to her hands, throat, and stomach. Police said this morning she remains in hospital and noted her condition had stabilized and she has been able to speak to officers.
Police investigated a second explosive device on Saturday as well as a third at the law firm Orle Barkman and Davidson on Stradbrook Avenue yesterday.
Police had earlier called the original bombing an isolated incident but have since charged Amsel, 49, with two counts of attempted murder, one count of aggravated assault, and a number of counts related to the possession of explosive devices. They are suggesting he has targeted his ex-wife as well as legal counsel who have represented either her or himself in the past.
Response and support from the bar both in Winnipeg and across Canada has been overwhelming says Sofia Mizra, president of the Manitoba Bar Association. Mizra says friends and family say Mitousis is recovering very well but her injuries are quite serious.
Members of the bar in the city are staying alert and looking carefully at packages before they open them, she says, noting the MBA offices were also evacuated on Friday in one of the other bomb scares.
According to police, the devices discovered so far have had distinct packaging and “unique” block lettering. Due to the Canada Day holidays last week, police believe any further packages will likely emerge in the next day or so.
Mizra emphasizes that issues of threats and potential violence are not new to many lawyers who are often involved in very emotional circumstances with their clients, but the situation with the bombings is obviously extreme. Lawyers and judges, particularly in the area of family law, are often on the receiving end of the anger from unhappy parties.
“When litigants hear something they don’t want to hear, they can take matters into their own hands,” she says, adding, “We have some brave lawyers in our community.”
According to Manitoba court records, Mitousis had represented Iris Amsel in family litigation against Guido that dates back to 2004 as well as a separate case filed in 2010 dealing with a numbered company. Mitousis is a family lawyer who had joined family law boutique Petersen King in 2014. Manitoba court records show Guido has also faced other small claims litigation matters over the years.
According to the CBC, police on Sunday deployed the bomb unit as part of the their investigation to two businesses, including EuroTech Auto Body. That business is among the defendants, along with Guido, named in the lawsuit launched by Iris involving the numbered company.
The incidents follow another tragic situation involving members of the legal community in Quebec. According to the CBC, lawyer Benoït Côté, 51, and notary Marie-Josée Sills, 30, died in hospital Saturday after a shooting at a law office in Terrebonne, Que., on Thursday.
Côté had once represented Michel Dubuc, a man found dead in his home on Friday along with the bodies of his two sons. Côté had been facing a $1.2-million lawsuit filed by Dubuc, the CBC reported.
Longueuil police spokesman Tommy Lacroix told the Canadian Press the timeline of events and motives behind the shooting had yet to be established but that autopsies were going to be conducted.
Canadian Bar Association-Manitoba members Laurelle Harris and Kelli Potter have set up a donation page on gofundme for those looking to support Mitousis in what will likely be a long recovery. In two days, it has raised more than $25,000.
Ontario court sides with Uber in legal dispute with Toronto, Canadian Press
Ottawa softens anti-corruption rules for companies seeking government work, Canadian Press
Newfoundland man set free by Supreme Court sentenced to house arrest for threat against jail guard, Canadian Press
Couples sue over refusal of marriage licences despite gay marriage ruling, Reuters
Molycorp Inc. receives bankruptcy court approval for interim financing to support operations, Reuters
Hungary passes legislation tightening rules for asylum, Reuters
RBS may need to settle securities-related claims according to court documents, Reuters
|Lu Chan Khuong was suspended after refusing the Barreau’s board of directors’ demand for her resignation.|
When Khuong refused to resign, the board responded by suspending her indefinitely.
The offence, according to La Presse, was treated non-judiciously by the Crown — a fact the Barreau says Khuong admits.
Quebec’s non-judicial program, according to the website of the province’s Ministry of Justice, is a way of “dealing with certain offences in a particular way so as to better rationalize the use of resources allocated to the judicial system and not to unduly stigmatize the misconduct of an offender whose behaviour does not warrant judicial action.”
Adding controversy to the affair, in its decision, the Barreau stated that some of the statements attributed to Khuong in the La Presse article were “worrying,” although it did not specify which.
In an initial interview with La Presse conducted as she had just begun her term as head of the Barreau, confronted with the provincial records in which her name appeared as part of a non-judicial case involving shoplifting, Khuong responded: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
When the question was raised again during the same interview, Khuong, according to the newspaper, said that no accusation had been made against her.
After that interview, Khuong contacted the Barreau to explain her situation. Another interview with La Presse followed, during which she told the newspaper she had left an outlet of Simons at Carrefour Laval with two pairs of unpaid-for jeans in April 2014, citing a lapse of attention. According to the paper, the total value of the jeans was around $455.
After she left the store, she said, a store employee asked her to accompany her to the office, telling her the police had been called. When a police officer arrived, Khuong told La Presse, “I didn’t make a statement” because the officer “didn’t ask me any questions.”
Khuong also told the newspaper the non-judicial process was something she chose “to avoid media attention and avoid wasting my time in court.”
According to the website of the Ministry of Justice, “the decision not to have the courts deal with an offence is a matter of prosecutorial discretion and is made by the criminal and penal prosecuting attorney” only once “it is has been determined that the wrongful act attributed to the offender constitutes an offence, that it can be proved and that no legal obstacle bars the prosecution.”
After receiving the complaint about Khuong, according to La Presse, Quebec’s Directeur des poursuites criminelles et penales chose to treat the case non-judiciously in June 2014.
In making its decision this week, the Barreau “took into consideration that the bâtonniere has to be unreproachable, because she is representing justice, she is representing protection of the public,” Lise Tremblay, CEO of the Barreau, told the CBC. “She has to support the administration of justice. No grey zone can be tolerated.”
The board of the Barreau will meet again late next week to decide on next steps.
Khuong could not be reached Friday to comment.
|The Divisional Court ruled this case involved “different facts, a different statutory regime, and a fundamentally different question” from one that went to the SCC in 2001.|
The three-person Divisional Court panel, however, agreed that TWU’s policy was discriminatory.
“The effect of the Community Covenant is to exclude certain persons from eligibility for all of the spaces available at TWU’s law school,” Thursday’s ruling states. “That reduces their opportunities for acceptance to law school in comparison with all other persons, and it does so on a discriminatory basis.”
A key element of TWU’s case was a precedent the university argued was set in the 2001 Supreme Court of Canada ruling Trinity Western University v. British Columbia College of Teachers.
In that ruling, the Supreme Court reversed a decision by the B.C. College of Teachers not to accredit the university’s teacher training program. According to the court, there was no evidence the university’s graduates would be more likely to act in a discriminatory way while teaching students.
This Divisional Court panel, consisting of Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco, and justices Edward Then and Ian Nordheimer, ruled this case involved “different facts, a different statutory regime, and a fundamentally different question.”
The College of Teachers, according to the panel, was mandated solely to “the setting of standards for the education, professional responsibility and competence of its members,” whereas LSUC’s mandate is wider, involving “a much broader spectrum of considerations with respect to the public interest.”
The decision also states, the evidence in the earlier case did not show that anyone had actually been denied admission to the university’s teacher’s program because they had refused to sign a document like the community covenant.
In reaching its decision, the Divisional Court had to decide whether the LSUC properly weighed a balance of Charter rights.
“On one side, there is the right of the applicants to freedom of religion including their right to operate a law school designed for persons who share a common religious belief,” says the ruling. “On the other side, there are the rights of the members of the respondent, both current and future, to equal access, on a merit basis, to membership that the respondent, consistent with its history, has a duty to protect.”
To attend the law school, TWU students “must sign a document in which they agree to essentially bury a crucial component of their very identity” since “it is accepted that sexual conduct is an integral part of a person’s very identity,” it says.
But the LSUC’s decision not to accredit TWU’s law school has less of an impact on religious rights than it does on the university’s ability to make money, the judges ruled.
Refusing accreditation to the school, the decision states, “does not, in fact, preclude TWU from opening a law school,” despite TWU’s argument that it would not open the school without accreditation from LSUC, and “while . . . there is a degree of interference with religious beliefs, should that result occur . . . the motivating force not to open the law school appears to be more economic than it is religious.
“What TWU would then be essentially saying is that it not only wishes to operate its law school in a particular way in order to advance its religious beliefs, but that it will only do so if it is guaranteed access to the single largest market for law school graduates.”
Douglas Judson, director of Out on Bay Street, an LGBTQ advocacy group that intervened in the case, hails the decision.
“It reflects a number of the things we’ve been saying on this matter all along,” he says. For example, “that there’s no real reasonable religious entitlement to only be educated in the company of people who share your religious beliefs, and that sort of objective wouldn’t outweigh the equality entitlement of LGBTQ people to have access to legal practice.
“As you can imagine, we’re optimistic about where this ends up,” he says. “I don’t anticipate that the issue is completely over or resolved at this stage, but this is obviously a very positive signal from the court.”
LSUC Treasurer Janet Minor says she hopes the ruling will influence other cases involving the law school now underway in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.
“We would be hopeful that they would look at this as a strong decision to take into account, but it’s not binding on other provinces.”
In a news release, TWU said it planned to appeal the decision as soon as possible.
“The Court’s finding that there has been a breach of religious freedom rights in this case is critically important,” said TWU spokesman Guy Saffold. “The court’s ultimate decision against TWU is starkly at odds with the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2001 decision directing approval of TWU’s teacher education program. It points a knife at the freedom of faith communities across Canada to hold and practise their beliefs.”
Quebec bar can proceed with mandatory minimum sentences challenge, Canadian Press
Edmonton man charged in deaths of people at Alberta work camp, Canadian Press
Air Canada passenger charged for assaulting flight attendant, Canadian Press
Former shareholders of Dole Food Co. seek award from court for shortchange in company deal, Reuters
Environmental groups file lawsuit against U.S. wildlife officials over rare wolf management, Reuters
Pakistani police arrest Muslim cleric who led mob trying to kill Christians, Reuters
Palestinian security forces arrest Hamas members in West Bank, Reuters
|David Fai says it’s inevitable the Supreme Court of Canada will eventually have to rule on the constitutionality of victim surcharges.|
Introduced in 1989, victim surcharges require criminals, as a part of their sentence, to pay a small fine that is then funneled into victim services. However, an exemption in the law allowed judges to waive the fine where it created undue hardship.
The federal government’s tough-on-crime agenda led to an amendment in 2013 that removed the exemption, and judges across the country have been trying to circumvent or challenge the law ever since.
David Fai, defence counsel for Bruce Barinecutt, says the courts in B.C. have found creative — and likely illegal — ways to bypass the legislation.
“Remember that the provincial courthouse in Vancouver is in the downtown eastside of the city, which people jokingly refer to as the poorest postal code in Canada, so most of the clients that go through there don’t have the ability to pay,” he says.
“I would say 85 per cent of the judges here are routinely finding the victim surcharge payable forthwith and [sentencing them to] one day in default — and that one day being time served by coming to court. So it’s not being ordered in most cases here in Vancouver.”
Fai says he relied on the 2014 Ontario case R. v. Michael to argue that his client’s inability to pay the fine left him in a state of criminalization that would hang over his head in perpetuity, thereby violating his Charter rights to security and liberty.
“The way this legislation is set up, it never extinguishes until it’s paid, so the criminalized consequences continue,” he says.
“Obviously, if the person never pays, they’ll constantly have this over their head, that at any moment the Crown might decide, ‘Oh well, I’ll bring an application for a warrant of committal and then you’ll have to show that you don’t have an ability to pay.’ And even then it doesn’t extinguish.”
It’s an argument Judge Donna Senniw found convincing. In her decision, the judge draws a neat parallel between the right to be tried within a reasonable time frame and the right to be able to discharge oneself of one’s obligations:
“The ‘overlong subjection to the vexations and vicissitudes of a pending criminal accusation’ which includes stigmatization, possible disruption of family, social life and work, and uncertainty as to outcome and sanction, apply to some degree to Mr. Barinecutt although he is not facing a possible criminal sanction.”
Senniw’s decision also supports the determination in Michael that the mandatory victim surcharge is, in fact, a punishment — not a form of restitution — that, because of its mandatory and fixed nature, can become “grossly disproportionate” in the event the offender is unable to pay.
As a result, the $200 fine imposed on Barinecutt amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment” and a violation of his s. 12 Charter rights:
“The payment of a fixed amount for each of all summary and all indictable offences where a fine is not imposed would on its face offend the principle of proportionality in sentencing.
“An additional $200 penalty may be an appropriate and just sanction for many offenders, but the impact on Mr. Barinecutt or any like-situated offender is grossly disproportionate to the law.”
Given inconsistent rulings in recent years, Fai thinks it’s inevitable that the appeal courts, and likely the Supreme Court of Canada, will be called upon to rule on the constitutionality of these surcharges.
Man facing terrorism charges says Charter rights violated, Canadian Press
Sex assault victim of Robert Pickton's brother victorious in court, Canadian Press
Groups seek court order from Ontario Superior Court over voter ID rules for upcoming election, Canadian Press
Deloitte & Touche LLP to settle charges that it violated auditor independence rules, Reuters
Team of attorneys to challenge California law tightening school vaccination rules, Reuters
French appeals court rules company does not have to compensate women with leaking breast implants, Canadian Press
Afghan court overturns death sentences for men involved in mob killing of woman, Canadian Press
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