criminal defense

More

Legal aid increase SI is laid – at last | News

  • August 13, 2022

The government has picked the day before parliament’s summer recess to lay the legislative measure enabling a long fought-for increase in legal aid rates to be paid from this autumn. One practitioner group desribed the increase as ‘an insult to justice.

Attacking the 9% increase as inadequate, the Law Society called on the government to take extra steps to safeguard the future of the criminal defense profession and the criminal justice system.

A statutory instrument laid in parliament today confirms that defense solicitors will start receiving increases in criminal legal aid rates from the end of September.

But the Law Society pointed out that the overall package for solicitors still amounts to a 9% increase, not the 15% that the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid recommended as the bare minimum required.

‘It is positive to see some of the criminal legal aid rate increases for solicitors locked in,’ said Society president I. Stephanie Boyce. ‘But the overall package for solicitors still only amounts to a 9% rise. This must be the foundation for further increases not the ceiling.

‘The criminal justice system is in crisis,’ Boyce said. ‘The courts are crumbling, there aren’t enough judges and lawyers, and victims and defendants are facing unacceptable delays in accessing justice. This is a make-or-break moment for the criminal defense profession and the criminal justice system. The time to act is now, before it is too late.’

Boyce added that the Society is disappointed that the government has ruled out any increase in fees for prison law work, despite the review recommending a 15% rise. ‘Parole hearings are a vital part of the criminal justice system and solicitors play a key role in ensuring they run efficiently, and prisoners’ cases are presented properly,’ she said.

Hesham Puri, president of the London Criminal

Read the rest
More

Alberta legal aid lawyers threaten job action over ‘perpetual funding neglect’

  • August 10, 2022

Article content

Alberta lawyers who represent low income clients are threatening to walk off the job over what they call “perpetual funding neglect” of Legal Aid Alberta.

Advertisement 2

Article content

On Saturday, three organizations representing criminal defense lawyers across Alberta issued an ultimatum to Justice Minister Tyler Shandro, months after Crown prosecutors made similar demands for additional funding

“The most minimal provision of legal aid services in Alberta is at a breaking point,” states the news release. “While we are prepared to collaborate with other stakeholders to solve this crisis, our cooperation is contingent upon a meaningful commitment by the government to adequate fund Legal Aid Alberta now.

“To ensure the government understands the immediacy of this crisis and the importance of this funding, our organizations are taking steps towards job action.”

The release is signed by the Edmonton-based Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association (CTLA), Calgary’s Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association and the Southern Alberta Defense Lawyers’ Association.

Advertisement 3

Article content

Unlike the public defender system in the United States, defense lawyers in Alberta are not employed directly by the government. Rather, they are paid

Read the rest
More

Legal aid lawyers reach breaking point, request more funding from province

  • August 7, 2022

Legal aid has reached a breaking point and Alberta defense lawyers are looking to the province for more funding.

Alberta’s legal aid program has been underfunded for years, said Ian Savage, the president of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.

“Every now and then we try and get the government’s attention to the crisis and they put some money towards it on a band-aid type solution,” he said.

According to Savage, in 2018, a four-year provincial funding agreement was put in place with Rachel Notley’s NDP government. However, that funding decreased starting in 2020.

In May of this year, the province gave Legal Aid Alberta the green light to modernize its lawyer-building framework. But lawyers are saying that if there’s no money, then there’s no sense in the project.

Read more:

Edmonton court mixes law with psychology to find ‘meaningful resolutions’ for at-risk Albertans

Story continues below advertisement

“What legal aid has been given or not been given in terms of what it can work with to revamp the tariffs, as a whole, puts legal aid in a position where it can only do so much,” said Danielle Boisvert, a criminal defense lawyer in Edmonton and the president of the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association.

Legal Aid Alberta is trying to pay lawyers for longer trials, said Boisvert, but that means taking away money from smaller files which make up about 70 per cent of cases the defense lawyers take on.

“If you’re getting paid less on each file, what are you going to do if you’re going to keep working in this industry as a defense lawyer for legal aid? What you need to

Read the rest