Ontario Law Society Raises Compensation Fund to $500,000

Update:

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In 1953, The Law Society of Upper Canada established a “Compensation Fund” in order to compensate clients who had lost money advanced to dishonest lawyers. Since 2008, the Fund also covers clients who lost money advanced to dishonest paralegals, to a maximum limit of $10,000. If your claim is due to a lawyer’s dishonesty, the present limit has been increased to $500,000. Prior to this, the maximum was $150,000, effective April 24, 2008. Prior to that, the maximum was $100.000. A hearing could take anywhere from 6 months to 18 months. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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TORONTO — Anyone cheated by a lawyer in Ontario will now be eligible for up to $500,000 in compensation, more than triple the previous limit, the body that regulates the profession has decided.

In recommending the higher cap, a committee of the Law Society of Upper Canada tasked with the issue noted the last increase was in 2008, at which the time the limit was set at $150,000.

“In light of the over eight years that have elapsed since the last increase and acknowledging the mandate of the law society to govern in the public interest, the committee determined that an increase in the per claimant limit is appropriate at this time, notwithstanding the infrequency with which claims exceeding the limit are likely to arise,” the committee concluded.

Osgoode Hall. The Law Society of Upper Canada, which is housed at Osgoode Hall, provides victims of lawyer “dishonesty” up to $150,000 through a victim compensation fund. Other provinces have a higher cap. How does the Law Society of Upper Canada's Compensation Fund help clients: If you've lost money due to a lawyer or paralegal's dishonesty, the fund can reimburse you for all or part of your loss. Typically, the fund will pay for losses involving money from estates, from trust funds held for real estate closings and from settlements in legal actions.
Ogoode Hall. Where the Law Society of Upper Canada is located. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Between Feb. 1, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2016, the fund doled out almost $7.5 million to 260 claimants, law society figures show.

The highest payout during that period — almost $1.4 million — went to 35 clients of Javad Heydary, a Toronto lawyer who took money from trust accounts before he fled to Iran in late 2013 and likely died there.

Another 10 clients of Richard Chojnacki, a lawyer from Mississisauga, Ont., received $1.08 million. His licence was revoked in October 2010 and he was jailed in 2012 after pleading guilty to fraud for embezzling money from clients.

The society established the fund in 1953 to compensate clients who lose money due to their lawyer’s dishonesty. Errors and omissions insurance, which covers negligent conduct, does not cover dishonest conduct, such as theft.

“The legal profession is considered unique in protecting clients from dishonesty in this fashion,” its report states.

Claims in other provinces vary widely. For example, Nova Scotia has no limit while Quebec’s is set at $100,000. A survey of “client protection funds” in the United States also showed wide variance in programs, ranging from limits of $50,000 to $400,000.

To cover the higher cap approved this week, the society’s 35,000 practising lawyers will have to pay another $18 a year, bringing their levy to $290.

People ripped off by paralegals can get as much as $10,000 — an unchanged amount. The fund paid 37 clients of paralegals $85,640 from February 2014 to the end of last month.

Courtroom. Mandatory minimum sentences remove the discretion from the judge hearing the case. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
A courtroom in Ontario. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

 

Man Charged with Assault of Toronto Parking Enforcement Officer

Update:

Parking tickets placed on vehicle by Toronto Parking Enforcement Officers. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Toronto Police Cruiser. Kofi Patrong has finally won his battle to sue Toronto Police for negligence, after being shot in the leg by a member of the Galloway Boys. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Toronto Police Cruiser. Police released arrest details surrounding the alleged assault of a parking enforcement officer on Sept. 8 at 12:00 a.m. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Man, 40, charged with Assault on Parking Enforcement Officer in the area of
Forest Laneway and Doris Avenue.

Toronto Police Services Board's Parking Enforcement Officer preparing a parking ticket for a vehicle.
Toronto Parking Enforcement Officer, placing a parking ticket on vehicle. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Toronto Police issued a news release today surrounding this alleged incident that took place within Toronto Police Services 32 division on the morning of September 8, 2016 near Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave in North York. According to police, the assault of the parking enforcement office, followed an argument.

Case #: 2016-1592107

The Toronto Police Service has arrested and charged a man for an Assault.

It is alleged that:

Parking enforcement officer placing a parking ticket on a van. Normally, enforcement officers do not ticket a vehicle, while the driver is occupying the vehicle, to prevent unnecessary confrontations. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

– on Thursday, September 8, 2016, at 12 a.m. a Toronto Police Service Parking Enforcement Officer was conducting his duties in the Forest Laneway and Doris Avenue area

– he was in the process of writing a ticket for a parked van, blocking a disabled ramp and partially blocking the fire route

– the van owner got into a verbal altercation and assaulted the Parking Enforcement Officer

Jeffrey Wingrowich, 40, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with:

1) Assault

He is scheduled to appear in court at 1000 Finch Avenue West on Thursday, October 20, 2016, courtroom 306.

Black lawyer denied entry to law society building claims racial profiling

Update: see previous post – December 19, 2012 Discrimination Case Tough to Establish

http://fightyourtickets.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/PC294006_6970.jpg
The Law Society of Upper Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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John Cottrell, a forensic auditor who worked for the Law Society of Upper Canada from 2007 to 2011, spoke out about his concerns about the law society's high monthly case quotas, which he said made it difficult for investigators to conduct thorough probes of possible lawyer misconduct.
photo by fightyourtickets.ca

A prominent black lawyer who says he felt humiliated when a security guard denied him entry to the law society’s headquarters has made a racial profiling complaint to the human rights tribunal.

Among other things, Selwyn Pieters is asking the tribunal to order the Law Society of Upper Canada to implement training focused on anti-black racism for security guards, lawyers and others. He also wants $75,000 in damages.

In his unproven complaint, the Toronto lawyer says he and a black student were visiting the headquarters in July when a security guard demanded to see his law society identity card, while white people both before and after the incident were buzzed in without scrutiny.

The Law Society of Upper Canada
photo by fightyourtickets.ca

When his ID card turned out to be expired, the guard refused to allow them entry, despite protocol that calls for a database check that would have confirmed his lawyer status, Mr. Pieters said in an interview Friday.

The Motto of the Law Society of Upper Canada is "Let Right Prevail'. It would be right for the Law Society ot increase compensation to clients who have been ripped off by their lawyer/paralegal.
The Motto of the Law Society of Upper Canada is “Let Right Prevail’. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“The attitude was I could not be a lawyer. What the guard did to me was quite shocking. I’m very upset about it,” Mr. Pieters said. “It’s based on the fact that I’m black and I believe based on the fact that I have dreadlocks.”

Surveillance video of what took place, he said, would help support his case.

Mr. Pieters argues in his complaint that the treatment he received “fosters and perpetrates the social and professional exclusion” of black lawyers.

Osgoode Hall. The Law Society of Upper Canada, which is housed at Osgoode Hall, provides victims of lawyer “dishonesty” up to $150,000 through a victim compensation fund. Other provinces have a higher cap. How does the Law Society of Upper Canada's Compensation Fund help clients: If you've lost money due to a lawyer or paralegal's dishonesty, the fund can reimburse you for all or part of your loss. Typically, the fund will pay for losses involving money from estates, from trust funds held for real estate closings and from settlements in legal actions.
Osgoode Hall. The Law Society of Upper Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“The security guard relied on stereotypes about race, colour, creed and ethnicity to single out me and my student out for greater scrutiny or different treatment,” he states. “In effect, I was racially profiled. As well, my student was racially profiled.”

Mr. Pieters said he discussed the issue with the society’s top executive, Robert Lapper, but received no joy.

We are all Equal Before the Law. In December 2013, the Court of Appeal threw out the conviction against Singh and harshly denounced the officers for using beatings and threats to get confessions out of suspects. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
We are all Equal Before the Law. In December 2013, the Court of Appeal threw out the conviction against Singh and harshly denounced the officers for using beatings and threats to get confessions out of suspects. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Mr. Lapper, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday, has insisted in a letter to the Toronto lawyer that the guard followed proper protocols and no racial profiling took place. The response, Mr. Pieters maintains, amounts to hiding racism.

Adding insult to injury, he said, is that the society displays photographs of him on its Facebook page from various functions where he is one of the few black people in attendance.

Justice. When are the tax evaders going to be brought to justice. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Mr. Pieters, who is known for his anti-racism activism, won a similar case three years ago when Ontario’s top court upheld a tribunal finding of racial discrimination after he and two other blacks with him were asked for ID in the lawyers’ lounge of a courthouse in Brampton, Ont. Non-blacks present were not asked for the document.

“It’s almost like an exact repeat,” Mr. Pieters said.

The tribunal application also calls on the law society to hire an outside consultant to review its security protocol and policies.

Federal Government Reviews Mandatory Minimum Sentences Law

Update:

Justice. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Justice. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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For instance, relief from a mandatory minimum could be granted in the case of a juvenile offender or an early guilty plea.

OTTAWA—The Liberal government is studying the idea of building some wiggle room into the controversial convention of mandatory minimum sentences to avoid unduly harsh penalties in cases that don’t warrant them.

The examination is part of a federal review of changes to the criminal justice system and sentencing reforms ushered in by the previous Conservative government, a frequent champion of setting minimum penalties for crimes involving drugs, guns and sexual exploitation.

A report prepared for the Justice Department says “a politically viable strategy” is to craft exemptions to mandatory minimums that kick in when certain criteria are met, as seen in several other countries.

For instance, relief from a mandatory minimum could be granted in the case of a juvenile offender, an early guilty plea or when an accused provides substantial help to the state, says the report by criminologist Yvon Dandurand of the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

Prison Bars. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Prison Bars. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“The main argument in favour of creating exceptions to the application of mandatory minimum penalties remains the need to avoid unjust and arbitrary punishment,” says the report, completed in March and recently disclosed under the Access to Information Act.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is looking at mandatory minimum penalties and other related issues “as a key priority” in support of her criminal justice review, said Whitney Morrison, a spokeswoman for the minister.

In finding mandatory minimum sentences for certain firearms offences unconstitutional, the Supreme Court of Canada said last year that minimums amount to “a blunt instrument” that can result in a disproportionate sentence.

Such laws prescribe minimum sentences of 90 days for a repeat offence of selling a large volume of contraband tobacco, six months for distributing child pornography and five years for trafficking someone under age 18.

Conservative justice critic Rob Nicholson, who served as justice minister in the Harper government, makes no apologies for mandatory minimums, saying they send a stern warning that some crimes carry stiff penalties.

“I believe that the steps that we took were reasonable in terms of protecting the public and standing up for victims and sending out a message that some of this criminal activity was completely unacceptable,” Nicholson said in an interview.

Department of Justice Canada Headquarters. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is looking at mandatory minimum penalties and other related issues “as a key priority” in support of her criminal justice review, according to a spokeswoman. Liberals are looking to build exceptions to the mandatory minimum sentences in order to avoid unduly harsh penalties. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Department of Justice Canada Headquarters. Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is looking at mandatory minimum penalties and other related issues “as a key priority” in support of her criminal justice review, according to a spokeswoman. Liberals are looking to build exceptions to the mandatory minimum sentences in order to avoid unduly harsh penalties. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Dandurand’s report updates research he carried out four years ago for the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, which highlights inconsistencies in legislation across the country and makes recommendations for improvement.

It notes that mandatory sentences take many forms, but generally prescribe both the type of penalty and the minimum level of the sanction. Sometimes they apply only to repeat offenders.

In the majority of countries where mandatory minimums exist — including England, the United States, Sweden and Australia — “some exceptions to their imposition have been provided by law,” Dandurand found.

Courtroom. Mandatory minimum sentences remove the discretion from the judge hearing the case. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Courtroom. Mandatory minimum sentences remove the discretion from the judge hearing the case. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

In some cases, the mandatory scheme specifically spells out grounds under which a court can override the presumption of a minimum sentence and exercise judicial discretion.

However, such “safety valve” provisions are almost non-existent in Canadian sentencing law, the report says.

Several jurisdictions have shown that it is “possible and useful” to introduce exceptions to mandatory minimum penalties, based on criteria that set a high threshold for any departure from the legislated minimum, the report concludes.

The Conservatives would challenge any attempt by the Liberals to water down mandatory sentence provisions, Nicholson said.

“I’d say, why are you doing this? Did you consult with victims’ groups? What’s the problem? The bills that we brought in, I believe, were reasonable.”

Peace Bridge Crosswalk on Memorial to Address Hundreds of Jaywalkers

Update: see previous post – March 28, 2012 City Examines New Bridge and Peace Bridge Crosswalk

Pam Tzeng is excited the city is building a new crosswalk on Memorial Drive at 9th Street, just west of the Peace Bridge.
Pam Tzeng is excited the city is building a new crosswalk on Memorial Drive at 9th Street, just west of the Peace Bridge. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

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New lights are being installed west of the busy pedestrian and bike bridge

Four years after the Peace Bridge opened, the city is installing a crosswalk and lights to the west of the span, allowing access across Memorial Drive at 9th Street.

“People don’t have to worry about crossing through the road where there are cars driving,” said city spokesperson Pooja Thakore. “Having the signal will make it much safer for people driving and walking, it’s a more predictable experience.”

She said an average of 200 people jaywalk in that location every day.

Mixed reaction

Pam Tzeng, who took advantage of a break in traffic to run across Memorial Drive on Saturday, is happy to hear about the lights.

“I’m super excited, I will no longer have to jaywalk,” she said with a laugh.

Not everyone is happy about the new lights, however.

“I think we have two walkways already and we don’t need a third walkway on Memorial Drive,” said Wendy Hansen.

“If people just obeyed the traffic signals that are there, that children already learn in Kindergarten, Grade 1, 2, 3…. We don’t need it.”

Construction on the project has already begun and is expected to be finished by the end of fall.