New community court dispenses integrated justice
This September CBABC President, Miriam Maisonville, and Executive Director, Caroline Nevin, attended the opening of Canada’s first community court, in Vancouver’s downtown. B.C.’s Premier Gordon Campbell, Chief Judge Hugh Stansfield, Attorney General Wally Oppal and Solicitor General John van Dongen were also in attendance highlighting the significance of the event.
The creation of a Vancouver community court was a key recommendation of the 2005 report, Beyond the Revolving Door: A New Response to Chronic Offenders, by the B.C. Justice Review Task Force Street Crime Working Group. The Working Group recommended a court that would take a problem-solving approach to crime in Vancouver’s downtown area by working to address the underlying issues, such as addiction and homelessness by having the justice, health and social welfare systems work as an integrated case management team. Among the 40 employees of the court, who will work with approximately 1,500 accused each year, are two judges, three crown prosecutors, three defence lawyers, eight probation officers, two nurses, two employment assistance workers and a B.C. Housing support worker. The court will hear cases involving crimes committed in a limited geographical area surrounding Vancouver’s downtown core and aims to hold criminals accountable while mitigating the identified causes of repeat offending.
The new court opens its doors in a community that serves as an everyday, depressing reminder of how the justice system seems to be failing in our province. With the political will in place, there seems no better moment for the CBABC to push forward with its confidence in the justice system initiative, formalized in resolution at this past June’s CBABC Provincial Council meeting. As B.C.’s justice system undergoes an important transformation, the CBA is working to transform the public’s skewed perception of lawyers who are, by and large, working tirelessly to maintain and promote a civil society.
This issue of BarTalk features articles that highlight the recent Conflicts of Interest: Final Report, Recommendations Tool Kit by the CBA Task Force on Conflicts of Interest. Robert Brun, QC, a member of the task force, summarizes the report and Warren T. Wilson, QC provides his take on the report specifically from a large firm perspective.
Not only is the legal profession committed to improving and strengthening our justice system, it is also striving to maintain the highest ethical standards in its practice. We invite and encourage all readers to share their opinions on the CBABC’s confidence in the justice system initiative, the Conflict Task Force report and/or the newly opened community court by e-mailing email@example.com.
This article was published in the October 2008 issue of BarTalk. © 2008 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.