Roger Burrill will join Presenting Counsel team of N.S. Mass Casualty Commission
The Canadian Bar Association’s access to justice subcommittee has selected a Nova Scotia Legal Aid senior lawyer as recipient of the 2021 Legal Aid Leader Award in recognition of his dedication to helping the less fortunate throughout his 35-year career.
The Legal Aid Leader Award distinguishes legal aid lawyers who have made notable contributions to advancing access to justice for those in need.
Roger Burrill has advised and mentored criminal lawyers in Nova Scotia Legal Aid and in the private bar. In the last 10 years of his practice with Legal Aid, he has appeared as counsel over 80 times in criminal appeals and has had numerous successful trial decisions involving access to justice, the Canadian Bar Association said in a news release.
The award recognizes Burrill’s work, skill, sense of camaraderie and dedication to justice, said Burrill’s nominator Charlene Moore, service delivery director at Nova Scotia Legal Aid.
Burrill served as counsel in the case of Randy Riley, which led to the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision to grant a new trial to a person convicted of murder after the trial judge was found to have erroneously applied a Vetrovec warning. He also acted as counsel in R. v. Prosper, 1994 CanLII 65 (SCC),  3 SCR 236, which ruled that everyone regardless of means should be able to access free legal advice 24 hours a day, and as co-counsel in R. v. Hebb, 1989 CanLII 204, which successfully challenged the ‘fine in default’ provisions of the Criminal Code that had led to 40 per cent of imprisonments in the province being attributed to fine default.
Moore called this last decision “a significant win for people living in poverty.”
Burrill will join the Presenting Counsel team of the Mass Casualty Commission, a joint initiative of the federal and provincial governments led by Michael McDonald, former chief justice of Nova Scotia, which will conduct an inquiry into the April 2020 shooting incident in and around Portapique, N.S., that claimed 22 lives.
Burrill has served as a member of the Court’s Rules Committee, the Justice of the Peace Training Committee, the Court Liaison Committee, the Nova Scotia Barristers Society’s discipline committee, bar admission course, and the board of Phoenix Youth Programs, as well as an instructor of criminal trial practice at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law.
Burrill has been a regular contributor to continuing legal education sessions for Nova Scotia Legal Aid, the Nova Scotia Criminal Lawyers Association, the Federation of Law Societies, and the Canadian Bar Association Nova Scotia’s criminal lawyers section on the subject of cross-examination on prior inconsistent statements.