Law Times

February 4, 2008

The premier weekly newspaper for the legal profession in Ontario

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Professional Appraisal Opinions - Trusted Values www.oaaic.on.ca 416-695-9333 Estate Planning Find a professional real estate appraiser www.divorcemate.com What do over 2 , 500 Canadian law firms have in common? They all use to process their family law practice needs. $3.55 • Vol. 19, No. 4 Covering Ontario's Legal Scene February 4, 2008 Afghan torture case tip of the iceberg OTTAWA — Two determined young lawyers, who forced the Harper government to admit Canadian troops ceased trans- ferring prisoners to Afghan se- cret police because they could be tortured, say the lone case in the spotlight so far is the tip of the iceberg. Paul Champ, Ottawa counsel for Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, says Canada's foreign affairs de- partment had been gathering alle- gations of torture by Afghanistan's National Security Directorate for six months before a case the Ca- nadian Forces couldn't ignore sur- faced on Nov. 5 last year. That case — where a Cana- dian monitoring officer from the Foreign Affairs Department not only heard first-hand allegations of beating but also found a torture cable under his chair in an Afghan detention centre — prompted a secret Canadian Forces decision to halt prisoner transfers. But, as Champ and University of Ottawa law professor Amir At- taran discovered in documents that took them a year to obtain in a Federal Court case opposing the prisoner transfers, the foreign affairs department had already heard graphic claims of torture in interviews beginning the previous June. "It was shocking," Champ told Law Times as he described reports he and Attaran obtained that quoted torture and beating de- scriptions from 10 other detainees Canadian troops handed over to the Afghan National Security Di- rectorate. "Everyone is putting a lot of focus on the Nov. 5 one, and the fact he (the Canadian monitor) found the instruments of torture was pretty unbelievable. That just shows how cavalier the secret police are . . . that they wouldn't even think to remove the tools of torture. "Detainees had been telling Ca- nadians that they were being tor- tured for six months, and nothing else had happened, so why would the Afghan secret police think that anything is going to change?" Champ, with out-of-court as- sistance from Attaran, an old law school friend from the University of British Columbia, is leading an unprecedented challenge in Fed- eral Court on behalf of Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. The two groups want a judicial review of the treatment of detain- ees transferred to Afghan forces by Canadians in Afghanistan, ar- guing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies to the Canadian soldiers there and also protects anyone detained by the Canadians and handed over to the Afghans. Abolishment of articling eyed 'Freight train' of law grads on horizon T he Law Society of Upper Canada's Convocation has granted a task force permission to investigate changes to the way Ontario lawyers are licensed and admitted to the bar — and abolishment of articles is on the table. An amended version of a Jan. 24 motion from LSUC's licensing and accreditation task force was approved following a lively discus- sion from benchers, after the release of a re- port expressing concern that the province's firms will soon be unable to accommodate hundreds of lawyers seeking articling place- ments. The combined pressure of increased intake at Ontario law schools, an influx of foreign-trained lawyers, and the prospect of up to three new law schools in the province could leave many students with nowhere to go following their third year of law school. "This is a freight train coming down the track and we have to be thoughtful, creative, and mindful of the size of this train," task force member and Bencher Laurie Pawlitza told Con- vocation. Pawlitza noted the task force's find- ings that the current demand for approximately 1,300 articling spots is estimated to rise to 1,730 by 2009 — a 30 per cent increase. "I urge Convocation to think about the difference between being unable now to place about 50 students, and being unable to place about 300 students, 400 students," she said. The task force's original report offered the following options for solving the ar- ticling problem, to be considered during a consultation process that would receive written submissions until April 3: • Students would receive no guarantee of arti- cling placement upon entry to law school. • Following three years of law school, stu- dents would complete articling, combined with a practical legal training course. • Articles would be abolished. But several benchers wanted the consulta- tion process to be less focused, and Convoca- tion passed a revised motion adding a fourth option stating the task force will "consider any other options and alternatives in the event of abolition" of the articling program. The date for acceptance of written submis- sions was moved to May 31. Task force chair Vern Krishna, who pre- sented the report to Convocation, noted the law society is currently admitting about 1,460 students to the bar. In 1999, Ontario received about 225 foreign-trained graduates. That number increased to 562 by 2007. "We expect that number to go up to 750 quite rapidly, as foreign law schools have made it a good business to educate Canadi- ans in law," said Krishna, who will travel to Bond University in Australia next January to teach an international tax treaties course. That university accepts 70 Canadian law stu- dents each year and offers a Canadian consti- tutional law course, he said. Krishna said the task force will seek an- swers to what the law society's skills program for law graduates should achieve, and wheth- er the current program is accomplishing that. The current program lasts about 60 hours, and "there are 1,400 students evaluated with very limited feedback," he said. He noted that law students at the Univer- sity of Western Ontario and Windsor spend 30 hours and 54 hours respectively in ethics- based classes, while the law society program spends six and a half hours the topic. "So, for the most part, there seems to be a fair amount of coverage in the law schools, in respect of skills programs," said Krishna. Task force chairman Vern Krishna says all options are on the table as probe begins into possible changes to licensing and bar admission. Inside This Issue Leafs Score! 3 Old Fashioned Policing 8 Focus On Family Law/ Trusts & Estates 9 Quote of the week "I was absolutely shocked. It shows that stigma and discrimination against AIDS is rampant." — Ryan Peck Executive director of the HIV & AIDS legal Clinic for Ontario See Investigation, page 4 www.lawtimesnews.com BY TIM NAUMETZ For Law Times See Court, page 2 They deliberately kept from us, and more distressingly from the court, the fact that they had known about it since early December. BY ROBERT TODD Law Times See Benchers, page 2 *Pages 1-20.indd 1 1/31/08 6:56:11 PM

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