CRISTIN SCHMITZ OTTAWA
Former judge gives back
to needy around world
DISMISSING THE JURY
Judge deems case
too complex for jury
Dissension up but
Cromwell on ‘winning’
side every time
Lawyers who want to know
which way the wind is blowing at
the Supreme Court of Canada
should keep an eye on Justices
Louise Charron, Thomas Cromwell and Marshall Rothstein.
That trio, along with Chief
Justice Beverley McLachlin, was
on the “winning” side in more
split decisions in 2010 than the
other five members of the court,
reveals an analysis of the judges’
voting patterns last year (see
table on p. 23).
The Lawyers Weekly’s analysis
discloses that the Supreme Court
divided in 17 of the 51 judgments it
rendered in 2010 (we counted
companion appeals as one judgment). This means that the court
was unanimous in about 67 per
cent of the judgments it rendered—a drop from the average
annual unanimity rate of 73 per
cent that has prevailed since Chief
Justice McLachlin took over the
court’s reins in 2000.
The increased dissension last
year is hardly surprising given that
the court was wrestling behind the
scenes with a handful of cases that
had been on reserve for up to 18
months. The areas of contention
included search and seizure, right
to counsel, confidentiality of journalists’ sources, access to information and division of powers.
Noteworthy voting patterns
emerge from the 33 per cent of
judgments in which the judges
divided last year (judgments that
included concurring opinions are
included in this figure).
See SCC Page 22
Ondine Snowdon is the spokesperson for a group of B.C. criminal lawyers who have withdrawn their services in protest.
JOHN VAN PUTTEN / THE ABBOTSFORD NEWS
BC criminal lawyers withdraw services
murky legal nature
JEREMY HAINSWORTH VANCOUVER
yers who do duty counsel work.
She said that funding covers
not only pay but also things such
as getting experts for trials so
Crown experts can be responded
to as part of a proper defence.
“We deliberately did not sign
up for January duty counsel shifts,”
Snowdon said. “The Legal Services
Society had advance notice of this.”
Snowdon said it is becoming
harder and harder for lawyers to
take the shifts as the tariff is effectively shrinking as costs rise.
She said there needs to be a balance between Crown and defence.
“A lot of us do this on a prin-
cipled basis,” she said. “We
believe there should be access to
justice…but our hands are tied
in terms of what we can afford to
do for clients.”
She said protesting lawyers
have often found themselves
“working for ridiculously low rates.
“Countless hours written off…
that will never be compensated,”
The B.C. attorney general’s
ministry referred the issue to the
Legal Services Society (LSS)
which confirmed a handful of
lawyers had not signed the duty
counsel roster for January.
LSS executive director Mark
Benton told The Lawyers Weekly
Jan. 5 he empathizes with the con-
cerns of the lawyers involved but
says he has yet to hear from them
directly about their concerns.
The LSS doesn’t believe the
withdrawal is going to impact the
court system in the two commun-
ities as lawyers from the Victoria
firm of McCullough, Blazina,
Dieno and Gustafson have stepped
into the breach for the time being.
Snowdon is not happy about
other lawyers stepping in, saying it
waters down the effect the protest-
ers were trying to have.
“It was our hope no one
would fill the void,” she said.
“It’s most unfortunate.”
Further, Snowdon says, she’s
had messages of solidarity from
other lawyers around the province.
“I’ve got a lot of feedback
from all over the province,
expressions of disappointment
at another firm stepping in,” she
to protest lack of funding for duty counsel
See Withdrawal Page 7
The withdrawal of duty-coun-
sel services by more than a dozen
lawyers in B.C.’s Fraser Valley is
part of a larger systemic problem
that the head of Crown Counsel
Association of B.C. says is a “tick-
Samiran Lakshman says the
withdrawal of services combined
with the lack of judges and court
time is creating a dysfunctional
system which has some lawyers
advising clients they can get
acquittals due to delays.
Ondine Snowdon is the
spokesperson for the group of
lawyers who haven’t put their
names on the duty counsel roster
She told The Lawyers Weekly
about 15 to 20 lawyers from the
cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack met in December and
decided it was time to take
action to get the government’s
attention over the disparity
between the funding available
for Crown and for defense law-
Lawyers make celebrity
names work for them
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