The Criminal Lawyers’ Association Presents: Racial Issues in Criminal Litigation

Date: Thursday, September 26, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019, 6 to 9 p.m., FCP Gallery, 100 King Street West, Main Floor, Toronto

CPD Pending

This event is being organized by the CLA’s Diversity Committee. It is a practical criminal law seminar with a diversity and inclusion focused agenda. The goal of this program is to present substantive criminal law issues from a lens that is sensitive to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Speakers and topics covered:

  1. Steven Skurka will open the program discussing his role as defence counsel in the successful racial profiling case of Dee Brown OCA. This discussion will cover the challenges faced by defence counsel in attempting to advance racial profiling in that 2003 case. Mr. Skurka will discuss power, privilege and unconscious bias while relating it back to his experience in the criminal justice system. This speech will also discuss the special responsibilities of lawyers with respect to advancing issues relating to diversity and inclusion.
  2. Julian Falconer will discuss the value of diversity and inclusion in our legal profession along with relating the impact of police interactions on racialised members of the public. Mr. Falconer will discuss cases and issues with proving racial profiling in the civil context as well as his own experiences and beliefs with respect to addressing discrimination and harassment within the criminal justice system. Mr. Falconer was counsel to Maher Arar and often engaged in civil litigation regarding police brutality.
  3. Reid Rusonik ( v Lam2014 ONSC 3538) will discuss strategy and tactical considerations in proving racial profiling in criminal Charter cases. This presentation will be interactive and involve a moderator that will also direct questions from the audience during appropriate subjects. Moderated by Adam Weisberg.
  4. Dirk Derstine ( v. Nur 2015 SCC 15 and  R. v. Husbands), Sherif Foda and Emily Lam (R. v. Le 2019 SCC 34 and R. v. Jackson 2018 ONSC 2527) will discuss advancing race related issues on sentencing and bail. This portion of the presentation will also tackle sentencing and bail issues through the lens of diversity and inclusion. Discussions will be directed toward how to advance the root issues of racism and discrimination in submissions before the court that will ultimately benefit the client. Moderated by Faisal Mirza.


  • 6 to 6: 30 p.m.: Registration and networking
  • 6:30 to 8 p.m.: Presentation and Q&A
  • 8 to 9 p.m.: Networking

Registration – in person and live webcast options. Guests will be asked to select option when registering:

  • $10 plus HST: CLA members
  • $10 plus HST: CABL CMLA, FACL and SABA members
  • $30 plus HST: Non-members

Register online by going to https://members.criminallawyers.ca/event-3513406 or call th CLA office, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to register over the phone (credit card payment required) by calling 416-214-9875.

IN PERSON LOCATION – enter via Adelaide Street West – Ground floor: