Gladue Plays Role in Conduct Hearings

Photo: S. Seyfert

Photo: S. Seyfert

Gladue principles apply in disciplinary hearings, a Law Society appeal panel has found.

In allowing the appeal of a Sarnia lawyer who argued his Aboriginal status should have been a mitigating factor in his sentencing, the panel made a distinction between a criminal matter and an administrative hearing, and found that Gladue applies to both.

“Here, there was case-specific information, presented by unchallenged witnesses, that the appellant had been subject to differential treatment based on his Aboriginal heritage and/or his defence work on behalf of Aboriginal clients.” the appeal panel wrote.

Terence Robinson took issue with hearing panel decision that his Aboriginal background was not a mitigating factor for the purpose of sentencing.

Robinson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in 2009, which he admitted is “conduct unbecoming a lawyer.” The hearing panel had heard from Robinson’s counsel that his “life experiences as an Aboriginal caused him to be suspicious of police and he therefore felt he was unable to call the police for assistance” during the incident.

The hearing panel imposed a two-year suspension; on appeal, this was reduced to 12 months.

Related Information:

Law Society of Upper Canada v. Terence John Robinson, 2013 ONLSAP 18 (CanLII)

Gladue “Overemphasis” overturns decision

Gladue Primer, from Legal Services Society, B.C., 2011.

R. v. Gladue, [1999] 1 S.C.R. 688.

National Magazine article, “Fifteen years after Gladue, what progress?” – C.C. Barnett and B. William Sundhu.


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