As discussed in other Slaw posts this weekend, it has been a difficult weekend in Toronto with peaceful protests associated with the G20 meeting being marred by criminal violence. The mainstream media has covered the more violent aspects as well as the human angle of people being held for four and a half hours in the rain on the streets last night, both aspects of which have been shocking to many of us living in the city. We also saw interviews on TV with people as they were being released from a temporary detention centre.
However, one thing we saw little of in the mainstream media was the legal process for detainees. The only thing close was one lawyer from Legal Aid at the temporary detention centre wonder on CP24 TV if legal counsel or a group like Human Rights Watch should be checking the conditions inside the centre.
Enter Adam Goodman, solo lawyer who works in the area of criminal law and general litigation out of his office AG Law Office. As a pro bono initiative, he worked at the courthouse at 2201 Finch Ave. West yesterday to assist those who had been charged as a result of the G20. He discussed what he was seeing at the courthouse and answered questions via Twitter on his account aglawoffice.
He has also started blogging, his first blog post My Day at the G20 Bail Courts going up last night to describe what he saw at the courthouse. He explains:
As a whole, the court itself ran extremely smoothly. The staff, ranging from court officers, clerks, reporters, and office staff, were great to deal with and extraordinarily professional. The judiciary was hardworking and helped move things along. The Crowns were also extremely reasonable and, while we may have disagreed on certain points, were generally prepared to discuss and explain their point of view. Legal Aid Ontario duty counsel worked hand in hand with the private defence bar as well.
Five courts were in operation: four bail courts (two alpha courts; a court doing french and youth matters; and an assist/overflow court) presided over by Justices of the Peace; and a plea court presided over by Regional Senior Justice Bigelow (it is expected that Madam Justice Tuck-Jackson will be taking over this role tomorrow).
Those facing more minor charges (disturbing the peace, unlawful assembly) were released on consent, usually on their own recognizance, and given a return date in August. In most cases a boundary condition was placed on these individuals to stay out of a certain area of Toronto as defined by certain streets until July 5, 2010. I think many facing these charges were released, with or without conditions, from the Eastern Ave. Detention Centre. They may have been sent to court for a number of reasons.
This is just an excerpt–I encourage you to read his full blog post for more interesting discussion. Goodman is obviously passionate about his work. I am thankful for his viewpoint as a counterpoint to everything else I was seeing in the media, and look forward to his future blog posts.