Law Times

December 2, 2013

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HUMAN RIGHTS LAW FIRM TROUBLES LSUC takes control of Heydary Hamilton Follow LAW TIMES on $4.00 • Vol. 24, No. 39 P2 FOCUS ON Law firm partners deserve protection P6 ADR l Aw TIMes P8 CO V E R I N G O N TA R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W. L AW T I M E S N E W S . CO M ntitled-4 1 December 2, 2013 12-03-20 10:44 A AIDWYC celebrates 20 years Experts debate weaknesses of forensic science, advice for defence counsel BY PETER SMALL For Law Times F orensic science is largely a faith-based discipline whose experts testify first and worry about verification later, according to a leading U.S. law and social science scholar. "There's a lack of data but an enormous amount of faith in it," Michael Saks told a Toronto conference on Nov. 23 to mark the 20th anniversary of Canada's Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. The association has played a significant role in the exonerations of 18 wrongly convicted Canadians. Forensic science is the second-largest cause of erroneous convictions after misidentifications, said the Arizona State University professor. At least three forensic fields "are now deceased" with their removal from the "Pantheon of science" in the United States, according to Saks: voice print identification, comparative bullet lead analysis, and almost two dozen arson indicators. Bite-mark identification and microscopic hair comparison will likely suffer the same fate, Saks told more than 150 people, including victims of wrongful convictions, during a panel discussion. "But the point is that none of these were kicked out of courts by judges," he said. "These were determined externally to lack a scientific foundation and removed after decades of coming into court" and being "cheerfully admitted." Change will come, Saks said, but only through a number of policy choices: • Adopting quality control measures to prevent "motivated perception" in which forensic examiners interpret Michael Saks, right, addresses the topic of forensic science with fellow panellist Barry Scheck, left, and moderator Alan Gold at a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. Photo: Peter Small the evidence to support the expectations of investigators and prosecutors. • Sending random samples of crime laboratory examinations to independent laboratories for verification. • Determining laboratory error rates and requiring them to be entered as evidence. • Ensuring the use of weak-pattern comparison types of forensic evidence is for exclusion only and not for identification unless there's sufficient validation research. See Major, page 5 Should lawyers have an obligation to mentor peers? T 'My view is that as a member of a self-regulating profession, lawyers have an obligation to do this,' says Lee Akazaki. Photo: Robin Kuniski Childview_LT_Sep23_13.indd 1 he Law Society of Upper Canada has created a task force to develop a proposal for mentorship services for the legal profession. "There is a concept about mentoring that I think . . . we have to accept is now antiquated," said Bencher Julian Falconer at Convocation on Nov. 21. "Mentoring traditionally was a form of social networking. It was an effort to plug people in and introduce them to others. This isn't the mentoring we're talking about anymore that's sorely lacking. There's nothing wrong with the social networks, but something is lacking that I think has to be professionally reinforced, and that is giving access to folks who don't have access to a network of judgment." Falconer told Convocation a mentorship program is a win-win for both lawyers and the law society as more guidance for practitioners means fewer dollars spent on disciplining them. "There have been many who have supported and raised the issue of the absence of guidance for those who need the help and how much money it has cost the regulators because that guidance hasn't been available," he said. Falconer noted a mentoring service would mean a drop in allegations of failing to co-operate against lawyers that are currently plugging the discipline system. "[It means] not being met with stressed-out, burned-out lawyers who, had they had help at the start — professional help — as in guidance and mentoring of the kind I'm talking about, would not be in the system," he added. According to lawyer Lee Akazaki, who has written extensively on the issue of mentoring lawyers, it would be more helpful if the law society also amended its rules to include an obligation on practitioners to mentor their peers. "My view is that as a member of a self-regulating profession, lawyers have an obligation to do this," says Akazaki, a former president of the Ontario Bar Association. PM #40762529 BY YAMRI TADDESE Law Times See Rule, page 5 13-09-17 3:13 PM

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