This forum is not purely dedicated to legal discourse. While I may attempt to 'raise the bar' with some pieces relating to law and being a criminal defense lawyer in Toronto, I also plan to use this blog as a medium to express my often critical thoughts on the daily grind that is life. Throw in some random videos and internet fodder, and the bar is sure to be lowered.


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Rob Ford Admits Smoking Crack

Below is a link to an Advocate Daily piece on today's admission by Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, that he has smoked crack cocaine.
Rob Ford admits to smoking crack cocaine

The only thing I should qualify is that my comments about the prospect of conviction are based on an admission being the only evidence.  That admission alone would not be enough to convict in my opinion.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Effort To Curb Crime Laudable, But Carding Has Been Abused

KevinHunter


The carding of citizens by police is troubling as it pertains to their Charter rights and, given the nature of recently published data in the Toronto Star, even more problematic for racial minorities, says Toronto criminal lawyer Kevin Hunter.

“As the recent data shows, people with black or brown skin are stopped and carded disproportionately more than their white counterparts,” Hunter says of the recently published Toronto Star investigation called Known to Police. “This sends an unfortunate message to members of racialized communities that they are being targeted by the police, an experience shared by many of my clients and their families.”

Starting in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Canadian police services began to stress the importance of intelligence-led policing, says Hunter, associate with Edward H. Royle & Associates and a former police officer. The idea, learned from police departments in the United States, was that policing agencies would benefit from the proper collection of data from the communities they serve. Through data analysis, Hunter says, “the police would be more effective in identifying community concerns, patterns of criminality and in making connections between potentially suspicious individuals and past or future crimes.”

As the saying goes, information is power, Hunter says, and the police aspired to be more powerful in their crime-fighting mandate through the use of carding.

“The message to the general public was clear — the police would take proactive measures to prevent and solve crime rather than strictly reacting to situations as they occur,” says Hunter.

In theory, this effort is understandable, even laudable, he continues.  In practice, however, “the data shows that the carding system has yielded results which may fairly be characterized as anywhere from concerning to systemically racist.”

Most concerning for Hunter is the evolution of carding from a secondary tool of information gathering for police, “to a primary instrument of arbitrary detention and search by historically recent branches of targeted policing.”

Policing agencies have developed specific units designed to proactively target particular communities, Hunter says, pointing to Toronto Police Services’ TAVIS unit. These units are tasked not with responding to calls for service, “but with engaging with members of communities deemed to be high risk or of particular concern to police.”

Experience has shown that these units use aggressive patrol practices that involve detaining members of the community, Hunter says. These practices are legally distressing to begin with, “but when compounded by issues of race, there is an undeniable tension between the public interest in crime prevention and the Charter protected rights of Canadian citizens of all backgrounds,” he says.

The fact that the chair of the Toronto Police Service Board has recognized the racially-charged dynamics of the police carding issue is encouraging, Hunter says.

“A new message is being sent to the public that the current racially disproportionate carding practice is unacceptable to the police oversight body,” says Hunter. “The real challenge will be to ensure the police are carding citizens based on legitimate suspicion of potentially criminal activity, rather than simply hunches based on skin colour.”

Original article at:
http://advocatedaily.com/2013/10/effort-to-curb-crime-laudable-but-carding-has-been-abused/

Friday, 13 September 2013

Now, More Than Ever, the Public is Watching the Police

I am quoted in this Advocate Daily story which is reprinted below:

Objective video footage of unlawful activities perpetrated by police officers are changing the “instant credibility” of a police officer’s badge on the stand, says Toronto criminal lawyer Kevin Hunter.

On Thursday, Ontario Superior Court judge Louise Botham found Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani guilty of assault with a weapon against G20 protester Adam Nobody in Toronto three years ago.

“It appears clear from the video recordings that numerous officers were involved in an aggressive takedown of Mr. Nobody, administering excessive blows while seemingly having enough control over him to effect an arrest in a more appropriate manner,” says Hunter, an associate with Edward H. Royle & Associates.

In today’s age of technology and instant flow of information, incidents between police and citizens are being recorded more frequently, says Hunter, providing more objective accounts of what actually happened.

In the past, he goes on to say, convictions against police in circumstances like this case presents, were not as likely to happen.

“When such recordings were not as prevalent, the court would hear the evidence of several police officers supported by their badge of instant credibility.  That testimony  would hold considerable weight from the onset by the nature of the officer’s position.  In short, convictions against the police in those circumstances were rare,” says Hunter.

The guilty verdict sends a message to police that excessive force when arresting a suspect is unacceptable, says Hunter, and the fact they’re held to such high standards makes these forms of assault “clearly intolerable.”

“The court is making it clear that officers will be held accountable for their unlawful actions. This is especially true since, in an era of modernity, the public is watching and recording,” says Hunter. “This is a lesson the police should have learned ever since the infamous Rodney King arrest in Los Angeles.”

“However, the value of these types of recordings is not only limited to a condemnation of unlawful police conduct. It can also be used to exonerate the police in the face of false allegations of misconduct or accurately corroborate the observations made by police regarding the criminal conduct of accused persons.”

The verdict also signifies the need for more police training with respect to public order incidents, adds Hunter.  The G20 incident was, “certainly not a routine police/public event. It was a rare affair in which tensions were running high in dynamic and fluid circumstances. It was a difficult situation for which to provide adequate training given that replicating the conditions would have been very difficult. I hope in light of the verdict and the criticism levied toward how the police generally handled the G20, that the police have implemented more specific training to handle the next major public order incident, which will inevitably come in a major city like Toronto.”

To Read More Kevin Hunter Posts Click Here
- See more at: http://advocatedaily.com/2013/09/now-more-than-ever-the-public-is-watching-the-police/#sthash.XUrts4yG.dpuf