Criminal Defence Lawyers in Vancouver, BC just completed a month long walkout. They refused to conduct all criminal matters, including trials, for the month of July in order to put pressure on the BC government to increase funding to the Legal Aid Program.
August 5, 2014
Vancouver, Canada – August 5th, 2014 /PressCable/ —
Criminal Defence Lawyers in Vancouver, BC just completed a month long walkout. They took the drastic action of refusing to conduct all criminal matters, including trials, for the month of July in order to put pressure on the BC Provincial government to increase funding to the Legal Aid Program.
The Legal Aid program provides critical assistance to the poor and disenfranchised and allows them the same access to Justice that many take for granted. A succession of provincial governments have decreased funding to this program starting in 2002 with a 75% staff reduction. This has continued on a regular basis so that today there are fewer and fewer services, fewer cases covered, fewer offences covered throughout the province.
The result is that more and more people are forced to represent themselves in court. Paradoxically, this results in significant added expense to the province as these hearings take far longer than if the litigant had a lawyer. We overlook the fact that court time is scarce and expensive and that having a Judge dealing with a litigant to who is representing him or herself is extremely inefficient. The Judge in that case has an obligation to provide some assistance to the litigant and then must ensure that he or she understands the rules of evidence and courtroom procedure. This results in the simplest of matters taking two or three times as long as they otherwise would.
This short-sighted refusal on the part of the government to ensure access to Justice also ignores the fact that we look to the Courts to provide a fair hearing. One must ask how fair can it be for a poor person to be forced to defend him or herself against an experienced Crown prosecutor. How can it be fair to expect some of most vulnerable citizens to stand up for themselves with no help. How can it be fair to allow their concerns to go unheard.
For sound financial and moral reasons, it is imperative that the provincial government fund the Legal Aid program. This same government has had no difficulty vastly increasing the budgets for the Courts, the Crown Prosecutors, and Law Enforcement Agencies. It is time to level the playing field.
Name: Troy Anderson
Organization: Troy Anderson Law
Address: 1109 – 207 W Hastings St Vancouver, BC
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