G20 Paralegal Suspended, Fined

Photo: LSUC

Photo: LSUC

A Law Society of Upper Canada (LSUC) Hearing Panel has rejected a joint submission, instead handing an 8-month suspension and costs of $6,000 to a Toronto paralegal.

The March 3 disposition centred on Leah Michelle Henderson’s involvement in G20 activists’ planning.

Henderson had been found guilty of committing the criminal offence of counselling an offence not committed (mischief to property) contrary to s. 464(a) of the Criminal Code of Canada. She had been sentenced to incarceration for 10 months.

The Law Society found that Henderson had “engaged in conduct unbecoming a licensee.” Henderson agreed, in an agreed statement of facts. She had counselled attendees at a meeting to “smash the windows of businesses and commit other property damage” at the 2010 G20 Economic Summit in Toronto.

After she was charged by Toronto police, Henderson had been administratively suspended for non-payment of her fees, and failing to file an annual report. She told the Law Society that she did not know that she had to file a report even though she was not practising.

While Henderson and the Society made a joint submission on penalty for a two-month suspension, consecutive to her administrative suspensions, the majority of the panel considered Convocation’s policy that encourages adjudicators to accept joint submissions — unless they “fall outside a range of penalties that is reasonable in the circumstances.”

The panel was not persuaded that the joint submission was appropriate for a criminal conviction and 10 months’ incarceration; and that the recommended penalty would not serve the public interest and preserve confidence in the legal profession and the rule of law.

The matter was heard before Vern Krishna, Q.C., Paul Dray (paralegal), and Jan Richardson.

Henderson had been described by friends as the “den mother of activists in Toronto” before her arrest in June, 2011, according to a Toronto Star article. She spent 25 days in jail before being released on $100,000 bail.

At the 2011 sentencing hearing on the criminal offence, Henderson had told the court:

“All you need to know about me is that I am a person of conscience. I came here from a place of morality. I stand here guilty of breaking your laws, not the laws of justice. I submit to your jails because you hold the weapons, but that will not always be so.”

 

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