NS chapter of Canadian Bar Association joins lawyers in support for Judge Lenehan

The Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Bar Association condemns the “vitriol, name-calling and personal attacks" against the judge who acquitted Bassam Al-Rawi.


Published on March 10, 2017

Judge Lenehan

©CBC

The Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Bar Association (CBANS) has announced it echoes the comments of the Nova Scotia Criminal Lawyers Association (NSCLA) in condemning personal attacks against Judge Gregory Lenehan.

On Monday, the NSCLA stated the public should be free to disagree with any judicial decision like Lenehan’s acquitting Bassam Al-Rawi, but said the Crown was not able to prove the passenger’s “lack of consent” despite her high intoxication level and calls for Lenehan’s removal were “unfounded.”

In a news release on Thursday, CBANS outlined parts of the NSCLA’s comments they agreed with: that those charged with a criminal offence are presumed innocent until guilty; that the Crown bears the burden of proving each element of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt; that judges must not be influenced or pressured by outside sources, including the government or public; and that errors of law or unreasonable verdicts, if appropriate, will be considered and corrected by the Court of Appeals if needed.

The release noted transparency in judicial decision-making is a foundation of the justice system, and so is public debate – as long as it remains civil and respectful.

“Vitriol, name-calling and personal attacks directed at anyone, including a sitting judge, are unacceptable,” the release said.

They have always advocated for improved access to justice, the release said, and will continue to look into more effective ways for they justice system to address gender based violence.

They also noted the release of their podcast, “Not Just A Bystander” on International Women’s Day, which discusses legal implications of sexual assault and the role the community plays.