TLA Statement on Arrest of Criminal Lawyer Laura Liscio

As President of the Toronto Lawyers Association and a criminal defense lawyer practicing for over 22 years I was outraged to read not merely about the arrest of Laura Liscio, but about the manner in which the arrest was conducted. Any individual accused of a criminal offense is shrouded with the presumption of innocence. Miss Liscio, a practicing lawyer, was arrested in the court house and handcuffed while in robes. Further exasperating this public show was Miss Liscio being paraded through the halls of the court house, out the front doors and eventually off to the police station. Police have discretion to execute arrests in various ways, including asking an individual to attend at a specified time at a police station for arrest. I cannot imagine that Miss Liscio presented a security risk, flight risk or any risk to destruction of evidence, necessitating her to be arrested while in robes in the court house. This atrocious public display leads one to believe that it must have been an intentional act in order to humiliate a practicing member of the Bar, and to denigrate the profession as a whole. This is a matter of concern for lawyers across the province and across the county.

I would expect that there will be an inquiry into this arrest and some action taken to ensure that this type of conduct be avoided in the future. Without commenting on the merits of the case, should Miss Liscio be found innocent of these allegations the public display of her arrest cannot be undone.

Joseph Neuberger
President, Toronto Lawyers Association


  1. I’m not a lawyer but I was walking into the court as Ms. Liscio was being walked out, I was shocked to see a lawyer, handcuffed and in her gown being placed in a police car in front of the court. I’ve been to that court many times and I’ve never seen anyone walked through the main area in cuffs. When I entered the courthouse, everyone was facing out, watching what was going on – if whoever made this decision intended a spectacle, they got one. I truly felt sorry for Ms. Liscio, even though at the time I had no idea what had pre-empted what I was witnessing, it must have been extremely embarrassing for her.

    This action by the Peel Regional Police appears to have been unnecessary and unprecedented. Someone needs to hold whoever made the decision accountable.

  2. Liscio’s lawyer, Stephen Bernstein, is seeking witnesses. Please contact him and tell your story.

  3. This is very disturbing. I am not a lawyer but in this instance I find the conduct of the police to be outrageous.

  4. I am a lawyer and I am outraged by the police mistreatment of Ms. Liscio.

  5. David Collier-Brown

    Even the newspaper accounts make this appear to be an unprecedented change in how the courthouse staff deal with contraband hidden in changes of clothing…

    See also

  6. RE: “Miss Liscio, a practicing lawyer, was arrested in the court house and handcuffed while in robes.”

    When, if ever, will we see similar public statements of “outrage”(media releases and the like) from any of the spectrum of lawyers’ associations when the “victim” is a non-lawyer. For example, will any of the various lawyers’ associations be articulating (to the press) a position on the handcuffing of autistic children (see below). Or is it good enough to simply demand that the police “treat” lawyers like they do their own?
    Ottawa mom horrified to learn autistic son handcuffed by police