Private lawyers will no longer be able to use legal aid to represent a client at bail hearings.
In a significant cost-cutting move, the Ford government says “legal aid is no longer going to pay another criminal lawyer to show up for two hours to bump aside the already available lawyer”
Instead, those appearing for a bail hearing will have access to what’s called duty counsel, who is paid for by Legal Aid Ontario.
All accused people in Ontario will CONTINUE to receive representation in bail court. Staff lawyers (duty counsel) already do the vast majority of bails. Starting July 7, they’ll do more.
— Legal Aid Ontario (@LegalAidOntario) June 12, 2019
The Attorney General’s office says this is bad news for lawyers who bill by the hour but good news for taxpayers.
Lawyer Ari Goldkind says this is actually going to cost taxpayers more money.
“It’s an accused person’s best interest to have a private lawyer who knows them, knows their family, knows their case,” says Goldkind. “While I understand the desire to save money, and as a taxpayer I’m all for that, this will end up costing the taxpayer so much more money in overcrowded jails.”
Goldkind adds there is one duty counsel in each bail court at every courthouse, which is not enough to deal with the flow of people who are charged every day with a crime or the dozens of bail hearings conducted each day which are handled by legal lawyers.
There is a huge amount of work required to get a bail plan in front of a judge or JP. Yesterday, hundreds of lawyers divided up that work. Today, it’s down to just duty counsel. The amount of work won’t change, the number of lawyers doing the work will be cut dramatically
— Stephanie DiGiuseppe (@SDiGiuseppeLaw) June 12, 2019
Caroline Mulroney has clearly never stepped foot into a duty counsel office. If she thinks they're sitting around twiddling their thumbs while other lawyers are running bail hearings she's even more ignorant than I thought (and I already thought she was pretty damn ignorant). https://t.co/92caKiXz0h
— Alison Craig (@lawandchocolate) June 12, 2019
Less important but worth a mention: @LegalAidOntario PAYS 2 hrs 4 bail, bail doesn’t actually TAKE 2 hrs. More like 4-8 hrs, sometimes 2-3 DAYS. We don’t bill by the hour for an #LAO bail. We accept partial payment for our time. So clients can get out, work, be w their families.
— Megan Andrews (@MegC_An) June 12, 2019