Still wearing her black barrister’s robe, a Toronto lawyer was arrested inside a Brampton courthouse Thursday, led out in handcuffs, then charged in connection to drug trafficking.
Laura Liscio, a 32-year-old criminal lawyer, faces multiple drug charges after Peel Regional Police allege she “smuggled” drugs into the courthouse.
According to a source familiar with the case, the charges come after marijuana was found in clothing provided to an inmate scheduled to appear before a judge. Prior to her arrest, Liscio was representing Brampton man Jahrell Lungs, who is facing several weapons offenses.
“Miss Liscio is an extremely hard working, ethical, brilliant young lawyer,” said her lawyer Stephen Bernstein. “The key issue is she’s charged with something she would or could not do.”
Bernstein said Liscio is “devastated” by what has happened, but confident that she will be exonerated. He said the way she was removed from the court in robes was ridiculous and should not be “countenanced.”
“We are going to show how wrong this was.”
Many in the legal community agreed, calling her arrest an unfair and humiliating “perp walk” through the court. Adam Newman, a fellow Toronto lawyer who once practised alongside Liscio, said he was in “utter shock and disbelief.”
“I can’t imagine her doing something like this intentionally,” he said.
During trials, it is common for lawyers to provide clothing for their client, as security personnel typically do not accept clothing provided to an inmate directly from family members.
Criminal lawyer David Bayliss said often the only way for a client to get a new set of clothes for court is to have lawyers be the conduit between families and their clients.
“Am I going to be accepting clothing for clients who want to look respectable in front of a judge now? I don’t know. We don’t know what’s in clothing when it’s given to us,” he said.
“A situation like this could happen to almost anyone,” said Dirk Derstine, a lawyer who was at Brampton court Thursday, but did not see the arrest.
“Speaking to other lawyers, there’s a real feeling of ‘there but by the grace of God, go we all.’ ”
A reasonable alternative would have been to ask Liscio to come to the police division, one lawyer suggested.
Daniel Brown, Toronto director for the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, called Liscio’s arrest “completely unnecessary in the circumstances.”
“(Toronto police officer) James Forcillo, arrested for the murder of Sammy Yatim was permitted to quietly surrender himself into custody for a speedy release on bail while Ms. Liscio was paraded through the courthouse in handcuffs in an apparent attempt to demean an embarrass both her and her profession,” he wrote in an email.
Liscio was released from custody Thursday night. She faces multiple drug charges, including possession and trafficking, as well as obstructing justice and breach of trust. She is scheduled to appear in court March 12.
With files from Louie Rosella
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
It's amazing how brazen the police can be in laying charges against those they don't like on fabricated evidence that destroys lives.
Police often have a pathological hatred of successful criminal lawyers who in their minds protect the guilty. Read the rest of the articles and it will stress the point our Ontario Police cannot be trusted and why you need a lawyer like Laura Liscio to protect your rights.