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.
President, Toronto Lawyers Association