Law Times

November 30, 2009

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Subscribe to Law Times And receive: • Unlimited access to the Law Times digital editions and to our digital edition archives...FREE McKELLAR STRUCTURED SETTLEMENTS INC. 1-800-265-8381 $3.55 • Vol. 20, No. 38 ckellar_LT_Jan14_08.indd 1 1/8/08 3:03:02 PM Accused witch arrested Alleged victims include seasoned Toronto criminal lawyer BY TIM SHUFELT Law Times of fraud as well as a rarely laid witchcraft charge. Toronto police allege that Vishwantee Per- saud has no formal legal training but man- aged to fool multiple people, including a sea- soned criminal lawyer, into believing she was a practising lawyer or law student. At the time she was taken into custody, she was supposed to be under house arrest for previous fraud convictions. "She has a very long history of fraud-relat- A ed off ences," says Det.-Const. Corey Jones. Jones says that since police issued the war- rant for Persaud's arrest, at least one other al- leged victim came forward with a complaint. One couple claimed they paid the woman $2,000 for immigration services, after which they were unable to reach her. But that pales in comparison to the amount of money Persaud is accused of conning out of Noel Daley. "In my career, in a couple of months, I'll be 28 years at this. I've encountered every type of confi dence man. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly," Daley says. "She was the epitome of the skills that make up a good confi dence man." None of the allegations have been proven in court. As of the time of publication, Persaud was seeking to be released on bail. Her lawyer Vishwantee Persaud faces multiple fraud charges after she allegedly posed as a law student. One of her alleged victims, Toronto lawyer Noel Daley, says he lost $148,000. couldn't be reached for comment. Daley was a year away from retiring as a criminal lawyer in downtown Toronto and moving back to Newfoundland when he says he fi rst met Persaud in January. She told him she was in her third year of woman accused of posing as a law- yer and off ering legal services was ar- rested last week and faces two counts studies at Osgoode Hall Law School, he says. Police would later say the closest the 36-year- old came to entering the legal profession was applying to law school in the mid-1990s. Daley says Persaud identifi ed criminal law as a possible focus, so he quizzed her on spe- cifi c elements of the legal process, everything from bail hearings to judicial pretrials. "She answered them with such accuracy and detail, I was impressed," Daley says, add- ing he was convinced she had closely studied criminal law and even had some hands-on experience. "It never occurred to me that the reason she knew the criminal law system in such de- tail is because she had been a participant in the criminal law system as an accused." He claims Persaud went on to tell him that her family was in dire fi nancial straights. By his assessment, Persaud was a promis- ing law student in need of a little mentoring and a little employment. "I have a heart the size of Newfoundland and Labrador put together, and she recog- nized that," Daley alleges. Within a month, he says he took her un- der his wing, set her up with space in his Richmond Street practice, and began paying her a modest salary. He was soon giving her a little money to help pay for her parents' gro- ceries, he says. He says she then gave him a tarot card reading, which Daley accuses Persaud of using to exploit his religious beliefs to ulti- mately get money out of him. See Charges, page 5 Hearing will send a chill: Groia A BY TIM SHUFELT Law Times n upcoming misconduct hearing will send a chill throughout the province's legal defence community, says Joe Groia, a securities litigator who faces possible disbarment for bad courtroom behaviour. Regardless of the hearing's outcome, Groia says the Law So- ciety of Upper Canada's decision to retroactively wade into R. v. Felderhof will have consequences that resonate far beyond the walls of his own Bay Street fi rm. "Every defence lawyer who goes 'It essentially means you are fear- less at your own peril,' Joe Groia says of the misconduct charges against him. into court now representing their client, I think has to be careful," he says. "It essentially means you are fearless at your own peril." On Nov. 18, the law society launched a professional miscon- duct proceeding against Groia, resurrecting the fractious debate over how to deal with rude be- haviour in a trial. "It sends a message to the community at large that we take these matters seriously," says LSUC CEO Malcolm Heins. Th e move marks a deliberate ef- fort to punish incivility more pub- licly in response to criticism lev- elled in a report released last year on complex trials, Heins adds. In that report, former Ontario Superior Court chief justice Pat- rick LeSage and current Justice Michael Code identifi ed a lack of decorum as a key contributor to trial delays. In doing so, they said harsher penalties would help to Covering Ontario's Legal Scene earlug.indd 1 November 30, 2009 • Canadian Legal Newswire, a weekly e-newsletter from the editors of Law Times and Canadian Lawyer...FREE 11/10/09 11:20:32 AM Inside This Issue 3 A Distinguished Career 6 Collaborative Law 8 Focus On Business of Law Quote of the week "That lack of communication could be as simple as not returning e-mails or phone calls, which in turn leads to client frustration and dissatisfaction, a prime breeding ground for a lawsuit. Don't unnecessarily annoy your clients." — Dan Pinnington, director of LawPRO's practicePRO See LawPRO, page 12 rein in courtroom acrimony and argued that entrenched civility is necessary for trials to run smoothly. However, others say placing formal restraints on behaviour will threaten lawyers' motivation to vigorously defend an accused. To consider incivility as mis- conduct will complicate what is already the delicate balancing act defence lawyers face, says Frank Addario, outgoing president of the Criminal Lawyers' Associa- tion. "Th ey're asked to unearth any realistic defence and they're asked to do it with energy and zeal," he says. "Th ere are instances when counsel crosses the line, but it's litigation, and litigation produces some tough, muscular behaviour." See Judges, page 5 Includes a FREE digital edition! Go to:

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