Monday, December 29, 2014

GTA personal trainer exonerated after being charged in RIDE initiative

Couldn't give proper breath sample due to medical issues.
Leanne Redlich, 43, is relieved to be exonerated after an ordeal that saw her charged by Peel Regional Police back in 2012.

Mississauga News
MISSISSAUGA — No matter how many times she tried, Leanne Redlich just couldn't muster up the strength.                         
The 43-year-old Etobicoke mother of four says she has medical conditions that put limits on her everyday life, and prevented her from complying with a Peel Regional Police officer's demand to give a breath sample into an approved screening device two years ago when she was pulled over during a holiday RIDE initiative.
Despite that, Redlich was charged criminally with failing to provide a breath sample. Under provincial law, Redlich lost her licence for 90 days and her Hummer SUV was impounded. She also had to pay thousands in legal fees before she was finally acquitted in Brampton court this year.
"It's been a nightmare," said Redlich, a personal trainer, wellness coach and owner of FitPro Edge Inc. "I'm a professional business woman and there was no logical reason for me to be charged. There was absolutely zero negligence on my part."
Redlich said she had dinner with a friend and had just left a Port Credit restaurant in the late evening on Dec. 11, 2012 when she was pulled over near Hurontario Street and Lakeshore Road.
Court documents show the officer was Peel Const. Pawel Papis, whose been with the force since 2009. He asked Redlich to provide a breath sample to see how much alcohol was in her system.
An officer in Ontario is within his rights to ask for a breath sample. The approved screening device is merely calibrated to show if the person would pass, fail or receive a warning.
Redlich said she explained to the officer her multiple ailments and, after several unsuccessful attempts to register a reading on the device, she was charged.
"He just kept telling me that I had to do the test," she said. "He was overbearing and overpowering. I didn't have anything to drink."
Though Redlich wasn't charged during a RIDE spot-check, her name was on a list of people charged during the force's Festive Season RIDE Campaign in 2012.
Redlich's vehicle was impounded and her licence was suspended for 90 days.
Court documents show Redlich was arrested and charged with failing or refusing to provide a breath sample "without reasonable excuse."
Peel Regional Police have not responded to a request for comment on the case.
The case went to court and in the middle of the trial, after Pawis testified and was cross-examined, the Crown invited the judge to acquit Redlich, according to her lawyer, Calvin Barry.
As a result, Justice Steven R. Clark found Redlich not guilty of the charge this past summer.
"The officer was inconsistent in a lot of his testimony. His notes were so shoddy that the Crown Attorney invited the judge to acquit," Barry said.
Ontario's Attorney General's Office spokesperson Brendan Crawley referred The News to the judge's ruling when asked  for comment on the acquittal.
Barry said he and Redlich were prepared to introduce medical evidence that proved she wasn't capable of providing a breath sample. He added his client is relieved the ordeal is over.
"In her case, this was just stressful because it was hanging over her head," he said.
Barry said he understands why the officer charged Redlich because drivers could obviously try to lie their way out of providing a breath sample.
But Barry said he vehemently opposes the laws that allow police to impound vehicles and suspend driver's licences when the charges haven't worked their way through the court.
"It's unfair. You're supposed to be presumed innocent," he said. "And in this case, where the accused is fully exonerated, who is going to give my client her 90-day suspension back?"
Redlich is looking forward to continuing her work as a personal trainer and putting more time into Project Smiles, a non-profit organization which she founded that seeks to raise money for children's charities such as Ronald McDonald House.
Follow Louie Rosella on Twitter @LouieMissiNews

Lawyer Eddie Greenspan, 70, had passion for justice

By , Toronto Sun
First posted: | Updated:

 Eddie Greenspan
Eddie Greenspan (Toronto Sun files)

TORONTO - Edward Greenspan, one of Canada’s most well-known defence lawyers, is being remembered as a brilliant litigator with a passion for justice.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our senior partner, friend and father Eddie Greenspan,” Greenspan’s firm, Greenspan Partners LLP, said in a statement Wednesday. “Eddie died peacefully in his sleep this morning in Phoenix, Arizona.”

Greenspan, 70, was born in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Perhaps the best known criminal defence lawyer in the country, he defended a number of high-profile clients including Conrad Black, Garth Drabinsky and Robert Latimer.

Greenspan also published or edited more than 25 books and was the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees for his work.

He told QMI Agency’s Matt Day in a 2013 interview that he loved being a criminal defence lawyer – even if his mother wasn’t happy about his clients.

“My mother was never too fond of the people I worked for,” he said with a chuckle. “She was like a lot of people. If the police make an arrest, that’s it. There’s nothing else to talk about and the guy is guilty … There’s a whole system of law and the defence lawyer has a very important role to balance against a state that has most of the cards.”

Greenspan said he pursued a career in law because his late father, Joseph, dreamed of being a criminal lawyer. Instead, his father worked at the family’s scrap business in Niagara Falls before his untimely death when his son was 13.

“I wanted to live out his dream because he never got to and I felt somewhat responsible,” he said.
Greenspan was a vocal opponent of the death penalty. In the mid-1980s, when debate about reinstating capital punishment began, he left his practice for a time, touring the country to speak out against the movement.

In the end, MPs voted against the measure.

Tributes poured in after news of Greenspan’s death broke.

Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a statement offering his condolences and praising Greenspan’s work. He called him a “larger-than-life figure in legal circles, our city and country.

“He was a brilliant lawyer who understood how important it is that everyone have a defence, and he was a tireless champion for human rights. On top of that he was a great citizen and a wonderful human being,” Tory said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a brief statement saying, “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Lawyer Robert Rotenberg was a former student of Greenspan and had an office in the same building as his Toronto practice. He called Greenspan a friend and mentor.

“Eddie is probably one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met,” Rotenberg said. “He had energy and enthusiasm for everything in life. He was just an incredible intellect. We could talk about history, books, art. He just soaked it all up.”

He said Greenspan loved being a lawyer and every case, no matter who he represented, was important to him.

“He’s known for the Drabinsky trial and the Black trial, but to him, every case was a case,” Rotenberg said. “They were all equal. He treated everyone the same.”

Lawyer Bob Richardson called Greenspan “one of the greatest, if not the greatest criminal lawyer in Canadian history.”

“No one could hold a room like him,” Richardson said. “There was something magnetic about his personality. When he talked it just mesmerized people and you came away feeling great affection for him. But at the same time, he could be a devastating advocate, but you still felt that great affection for him.”

Calvin Barry, a former Crown attorney and a now criminal defence lawyer, faced off against Greenspan in the courtroom many times. He praised Greenspan for his sense of humour and good nature, even in adversarial situations.

“He was a complete gentleman,” Barry said. “He was always fair but he fought for his clients in a most aggressive but dispassionate, ethical manner.”

A funeral will be held Sunday at Beth Torah Synagogue at 47 Glenbrook Ave. in Toronto. Check for more details closer to the date.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Friday, December 5, 2014

Second charge laid against Toronto cop in Sammy Yatim shooting

Const. James Forcillo had already been charged with second-degree murder in the death of the teenager on a streetcar last summer.

Const. James Forcillo, left, shown with his wife Irina in June, is now facing charges of both second-degree murder and attempted murder.
Const. James Forcillo, left, shown with his wife Irina in June, is now facing charges of both second-degree murder and attempted murder.
By: Staff Reporter, Published on Wed Jul 30 2014
The new indictment against James Forcillo filed in court on Monday.
The Toronto officer charged with second-degree murder in the streetcar shooting of Sammy Yatim last summer has been charged again.
On Wednesday, the Crown revealed that it had added the charge of attempted murder to the indictment of Const. James Forcillo, leaving him in an apparent contradiction: prosecutors claim he both murdered and attempted to murder the Toronto teen.
Yatim was killed after brandishing a small knife on the Dundas streetcar last July. Once passengers evacuated the TTC vehicle, several police officers approached the open front doors and ordered Yatim to drop the knife.
Several videos of the event show a single officer — later identified as Forcillo — firing nine times, leaving the boy crumpled on the floor. Yatim was then Tasered and handcuffed before being taken to hospital.

Calvin Barry, who has worked both sides of murder trials — first as a Crown prosecutor and now as a defence lawyer — says he’s never seen a person charged with murder and attempted murder in the same case.
“It could have the effect of creating a charge to the jury which would be somewhat complex and, on the face of it, inconsistent,” said Barry, who is not involved in the case.

“In the law, an attempted murderer is just a lucky murderer,” said criminal defence lawyer Nader Hasan, who is not involved in the case. “An attempted murder involves all the same intent, but the victim doesn’t die. Yet in this case, the victim did die.”
Characterizing it as a “pretty clear case of second-degree murder,” Hasan said the Crown could be opening up the door for a plea bargain.
Because second-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence with no parole for 10 years, while attempted murder means a mandatory five years, “it may provide an opportunity for the officer to plead to something lesser than murder,” said Hasan.
Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack disagrees, saying the Crown has indicated it will be fully prosecuting the case.
“No plea is happening here,” McCormack said.
Another theory is that the Crown is concerned that it won’t be able to prove Yatim died from the bullets.
“In order to prove second-degree murder, the Crown has to prove not only that Const. Forcillo had the required intent and carried out this intent by shooting at Sammy Yatim, but also that his shooting caused Sammy Yatim’s death,” wrote Gerald Chan, a criminal defence lawyer who isn’t involved in the case.
Yatim’s cause of death might turn out to be heart failure, which could be attributed to the Tasering, said Brian Heller, another uninvolved criminal lawyer.
“So he might have died from the Tasering before he died from the shots,” Heller said.
In this way, Forcillo’s lawyers may try to argue that he didn’t cause Yatim’s death and the Crown would have to fall back on attempted murder.
“Might the sustaining of the shots have diminished his capacity to withstand the force of the Tasering?” Heller asked.
After a court appearance Wednesday morning, Forcillo’s lawyer, Lawrence Gridin, said the new charge indicates weakness in the Crown’s case.
“The Crown’s changing theory just highlights that this case is by no means clear-cut, and we are looking forward to presenting a strong defence,” Gridin wrote in an email to the Star.
McCormack claimed the two charges are contradictory.
“We’re scratching our heads; the public is scratching their heads; no one understands it,” he said. “To us, it’s like throwing all sorts of stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.”
After discussing the case with Forcillo’s lawyers, McCormack speculated that the new charge might reflect the officer having felt threatened by Yatim.
“It seems Forcillo could have been justified in firing some but not all of the shots,” he said.
The second charge comes only days after the one-year anniversary of the shooting. Last weekend, Yatim’s father, Nabil (Bill) said in a statement that his son “did not deserve to die this way.”