Message from CLA President, John Struthers – March 27, 2020

As our volunteer efforts in the Courts over the past two weeks wind down, we offer our profound gratitude and admiration to all our volunteers and organizers. Our valuable role and commitment has been critical.

However we want to make one thing crystal clear. We have learned as has everyone from this pandemic response.

We have learned what we already knew firsthand, that Duty Counsel have an enormously difficult, challenging and rewarding job.  They are the front line triage workers of our justice system responding to those in need on what is often the worst day of their lives

We are proud to have them as colleagues and friends and we look forward to working shoulder to shoulder with them again going forward.

Institutional imperatives and employment limitations don’t apply to the pirates of the private defence bar and we respect and accept the limitations imposed on Duty Counsel for health and safety reasons. They were ordered to withdraw on a principled basis which we respect.

As we now leave the Courts with a fighting chance to work remotely, we know Duty Counsel will continue to work remotely doing all they can for the people of Ontario. We each have our critical roles and we fervently hope that this tragic situation can bring about needed Court reforms which will enable all of us to contribute collaboratively going forward.

With respect, I remain yours truly;

John Struthers
Criminal Lawyers’ Association

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