Law Times

September 4, 2017

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Life benchers concerned over shrinking role BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times L ife benchers are decrying their diminished role in the Law Society of Upper Canada's governing com- mittees. At a special Convocation meet- ing in August, some life benchers took the opportunity to express concerns they had over their exclu- sion from many committees. Treasurer Paul Schabas has cut down the size of the commit- tees since he was elected last year and has given priority to elected benchers rather than life benchers, a grandfathered position that was given to benchers who had com- pleted four elected terms, or 16 years, at Convocation. Ross Murray, a life bencher from outside of Toronto, says he was disappointed to find that the number of life benchers appointed to the committees had dwindled. "I was pretty upset last year when to my surprise none of the out-of-town life benchers were re- appointed," he says. "We had all been on standing committees . . . but we were not re- appointed." Murray says he was particularly concerned by the lack of life bench- ers from outside Toronto repre- sented on the committees. There are six ex-officio bench- ers that have been selected to serve on the committees, task forces and working groups that were ap- proved for this year, but Murray says he would like to see more ap- pointed, particularly from outside Toronto. "I think we bring experience and knowledge of what's going on in the profession as well as in Con- vocation," he says. But Schabas says priority must be given to elected and appointed benchers as they are accountable to members and the public. "They were elected to be bench- ers," he says. "They were elected now for a limited period of time. We now ARTICLING CRISIS Clarity lacking on how to address problems P7 FOCUS ON Class Actions P8 PM #40762529 $5.00 • Vol. 28, No. 27 September 4, 2017 L AW TIMES C O V E R I N G O N T A R I O ' S L E G A L S C E N E • W W W . L A W T I M E S N E W S . C O M PROTEST RIGHTS Municipalities must examine law for answers P5 BY ALEX ROBINSON Law Times O f the 38 justices of the peace the provincial government appointed this summer, only 14 have law degrees. This has led to a renewed call by lawyers for a requirement that justices of the peace who preside over bail hearings have a law de- gree. Justices of the peace in Ontario oversee trials for offences under the Provincial Offences Act, but they also preside over bail hear- ings — something lawyers say should require legal expertise. "The issues in a bail hearing are incredibly complex, and the jeopardy that people are facing is extremely high," says Amanda Ross, a criminal defence lawyer with Cooper Sandler Shime & Bergman LLP. "You're looking at whether or not you'll be released [and] you're looking at whether or not your liberty will be put on hold for the duration of your criminal case and that has a massive impact on both your day-to-day life and ul- timately how your case turns out." She says there can be complex evidentiary and legal issues at bail hearings, such as the Gladue prin- ciples that need to be applied to a proceeding involving an aborigi- nal accused person. Having an adjudicator that does not have an intricate knowl- edge of the law in such circum- stances can be problematic, she adds. Candidates to become justices of the peace are required to have a university degree or a college diploma and 10 years of paid or volunteer work. The Justices of the Peace Ap- pointments Advisory Commit- tee reviews applications and is- sues determinations on whether candidates are qualified to the attorney general, who will then recommend appointments to the Ontario Court of Justice. Ross says she would have pre- ferred if the proportion of lawyers appointed this summer to be jus- tices of the peace was higher or even slanted the other way so that the majority of appointments had a legal background. She says lawyers are more likely to recognize concerns accused people might have that go be- See Law, page 2 Amanda Ross says she would have preferred if more lawyers were appointed to be justices of the peace in Ontario. Photo: Robin Kuniski Concerns voiced over non-lawyer JPs Michael Lerner says there should be at least one life bencher appointed to each committee at the Law Society of Upper Canada. Integrated Legal Marketing Solutions Put Your Digital Marketing Tactics into High Gear Untitled-1 1 2017-08-30 12:21 PM Follow & $#&!&jmmm$cYa[bbWh$Yec ntitled-4 1 12-03-20 10:44 AM See Few, page 2

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