Showdown looms in legal-services turf war

Three years after the controversial licensing and regulation of paralegals in Ontario, non-lawyers are seeking to expand areas of practice

Kirk Makin

Justice Reporter — From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

No one was more surprised than Peter Dobson when a judge sentenced him to 60 days in jail and a $20,200 fine for a series of driving offences.

A paralegal claiming to represent Mr. Dobson had pleaded him guilty in absentia – apparently without the Toronto vending machine operator’s knowledge.

An Ontario Court judge has now overturned Mr. Dobson’s conviction on the basis that the paralegal – Laurie Restrick – was incompetent, evasive and dishonest about her conduct in his case.

Judge S.C. MacLean said that Ms. Restrick “tried to cover her tracks” by altering documents and fabricating evidence. “At times, Ms. Restrick seemed to be guessing and making things up as she went along in her testimony.”

The ruling comes at a particularly embarrassing time for the Law Society of Upper Canada, which angered many of its constituents three years ago by opting to licence and regulate paralegals.

With emotions running high, a showdown is expected to erupt Wednesday at the law society’s annual general meeting over the expansion of paralegal services. The criminal law and family law bars are fiercely opposed to the possibility of paralegals being permitted to expand the range of services they can offer clients.

Mary Reilly, treasurer of the Family Lawyers Association of Ontario, said yesterday that a motion to allow paralegals into the family law area was withdrawn at the eleventh hour, “but I’m sure the issue is not dead yet.

“This has certainly mobilized the family law bar,” Ms. Reilly said. “Our concern is that family law is extremely complicated. You have to have knowledge of a lot of different pieces of legislation. It isn’t a case of just giving them a couple of courses, and they’re up to speed.”

Mr. Dobson’s lawyer, Aaron Harnett, noted in an interview that Ms. Restrick had been qualified by the law society to act as a paralegal. “She is licensed; she is regulated,” he said. “It was very interesting to see that regulation doesn’t seem to have had any impact on the way she conducts her practice.”

Mr. Harnett said that the Restrick case shows why it is essential to keep paralegals out of areas they are not competent to dispense legal services. “The push by paralegals to expand their scope, and the level of trust that the courts and public place in them, will be strongly resisted.

“What this woman did was breathtakingly stupid as well as being breathtakingly dishonest,” he said. “Having watched paralegals in court for the past few years, really shoddy practice is not that surprising. What was surprising were the lengths this woman went to cover her tracks.”

Mr. Dobson was convicted of several charges relating to driving without insurance or a valid driver’s license. In ordering a new trial, Judge MacLean said that Ms. Restrick was lacking in many areas.

“Her apparent understanding of the law and the general level of competence seemed quite inadequate,” she said. “As a result of her evidence, the Court also has serious concerns about her competence to act as a legal representative.”




Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

"incompetent, evasive and dishonest" These adjectives can also be used to describe the underbelly of the Ontario who "strike pleadings" issue restraining orders, vexatious litigant orders, not for any genuine purpose but to exact revenge, to teach a lesson, to satisfy their addition towards psychopathic tendencies.

Then we have those Extreme Feminists, the front line workers of the Canadian Man Haters Association, that includes "Feminist Lawyers" who personally fabricate evidence for their clients.

These lawyers and judges are well known. The judiciary are a Legal Cartel, its a brotherhood, to that are the paymasters for the criminals and child abusers in society who officially mascaraed as judges.

Take Denis Power of Ottawa, he strikes pleadings, at the drop of a hat, issues restraining orders that banish fathers FOR EVER from a CITY that has more criminals in it than any other in Canada.

Then there is the Queen Sargent of Arms of the Feminist Movement, Madam of injustice Katherine Feldman of the Court of Appeal of Ontario who is bound to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada for her solid demonstrations of ability to flagrantly abuse the fundamental principles of justice to satisfy the extreme feminists.

Just as its unfair to paint all judges or all lawyers with the one brush, perhaps the same principle should be applied to paralegals. The fact is in any group in society there are bad eggs however, its rather ironic that the some of the worst examples of child abusers in Canada are found in the Ontario Judiciary who seem to get great satisfaction from leaving trails of endless destruction, all in the name of ensuring children never get to see their loving devoted fathers while the same judges turn a convenient blind eye to feminist violence and contempt for court orders.

Its enough to make you want to puke.