We wrote Anthony Laycock of the Criminal Lawyers Association back on April 28, challenging him, the association he heads, and its members to confront the Ontario government over its operation of the province’s jails. “Where are the angry lawyers?” was published on May 15, along with the letter and some supporting background. No response was expected, although some of you assumed one would follow, but Mr. Laycock has so far been silent.
We had an extensive exchange on the issue with a criminal lawyer who carries a large case load. It began amiably but dissolved into an unintentionally contentious debate when we appeared to question why peer relationships within the practice of law and government ministries might outweigh the best interests of clients. Quite simply, we were accused of being impertinent and insulting. So be it.
Now that class actions are in the works, we went back to Mr. Laycock. Don’t expect him to comment this time ‘round either.
September 2, 2016
Anthony Laycock, Executive Director,
Criminal Lawyers Association,
189 Queen Street East, Suite #1,
Toronto, ON M5A 1S2
Re: Provincial Jails – Encore
Dear Director Laycock:
My April 28th letter questioned the apparent reluctance by those in positions of advantage to champion reforms in Ontario’s provincial jails and initiate calls for change. I had looked forward to your comments.
A criminal lawyer with whom I discussed this admitted that conditions in the jails were troubling and difficult, but suggested I didn’t understand how the justice system functioned. On the contrary, my business career before I left to pursue other interests was dominated by the politics of business and the business of politics. I’m not a lawyer, but business relationships have similar characteristics across the full spectrum of human experience.
It’s heartening to have Superior Court Justice Douglas Gray take up the cause of two Maplehurst inmates in a May judgement against the province for excessive lockdowns. Even more impressive, the Koskie Minsky LLP filings of three class actions against Ontario are a victory for progress. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has had enough latitude to do its job, and should be penalized for its complacency and failures.
Your association can best serve justice by calling on its members to assist jailed clients in connecting with Koskie Minsky. This surely cannot be an onerous burden, and I encourage you to act.
Charles H. Klassen