The Criminal Lawyers Association has announced that members with more than ten years experience or the qualifications to represent clients in serious criminal cases will no longer accept legal aid certificates in cases of homicide or complex matters involving guns and gangs. This important effort is meant to highlight the woefully inadequate legal aid tariff and the discrepancy in resources between the Crown and defence in serious criminal cases which has been identified, most recently in the report of the Goudge Inquiry Into Pediatric Forensic Pathology, as a potential source of wrongful convictions. The consequences of this action will undoubtedly be watched with great care by officials at the Ministry of the Attorney General. Persons charged with serious offences and who cannot afford to hire a lawyer will be unable to secure representation, with the effect that they will either be unrepresented or, more likely, will have counsel appointed for them by a judge at rates well above the legal aid tariff. There will almost certainly be more news to come on this issue.
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