Criminal Law

Gadhia speaks at Ontario Bar Association event

Toronto criminal lawyer Roots Gadhia spoke as a member of a panel discussion on the "Emerging Trends in Judicial Interim Release" at a recent Ontario Bar Association event.

The discussion, held Oct. 20, was moderated by Justice of the Peace Esther N. Daniel.

Other guest panelists were Justice Gary Trotter of the Superior Court and Toronto prosecutor Michael Waby.

The event drew an intimate crowd for a dinner and discussion on several key issues surrounding the implementation of video bail in the Toronto Area. Durham Region already has video bail and the technology has already raised some issues for both the defence bar and the administration of justice, says Gadhia.

She says the move to video bail is an eventuality given the fact that the Toronto South Detention Centre super jail is outfitted with technology that allows for much of the judicial process to be conducted without the necessity of transporting the accused to a courtroom.

Video bail poses the problems of an accused person being physically absent from one of the most important steps of the criminal court process and it dehumanizes the client who is on a screen while the players discuss what to do, says Gadhia.

The panel also discussed the ethical consideration of accepting conditions of release on a joint proposal and then later varying them in Superior Court. There was also a practical discussion about why the defence accepts them and the reasons for the Crown who, as Justice Trotter told the audience, "hold all the cards on release."

Justice Trotter comments frequently on the appropriateness of bail provisions as they apply to the defence, arguing that the issue of bail should properly be within the jurisdiction of the Ontario Court and that circumventing that process is problematic, says Gadhia.

She explains there are practical limitations on counsel, inclusive but not limited to, a client desperate to get out of jail, family members ready to sign, nominal retainers that become considerably smaller as each passing day goes by and limited court resources that go to the mentality of getting the bail and reviewing it later in Superior Court.

The courts follow procedural requirements and in fairness, that procedure should apply to everyone uniformly and across the board, but the reality is the lives that the criminal courts affect do not always fall neatly within that parameter, says Gadhia.

"Sometimes compassion and understanding from all the players in the justice system can work to obviate having to circumvent the procedures," she says.



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