Accused rioters who face possible jail time and can't afford a lawyer may be refused legal aid under the latest job action spearheaded by the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.

Accused rioters who face possible jail time and can't afford a lawyer may be refused legal aid under the latest job action spearheaded by the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C.

Lawyers plan to boycott legal aid for riot suspects

Latest tactic a follow-up to four-month escalating strike

Most B.C. lawyers are expected to refuse to take on accused Stanley Cup rioters as legal aid clients in a new strategy to press the provincial government for more funding.

The Trial Lawyers’ Association of B.C. (TLABC) board of governors decided over the weekend to recommend refusal of riot cases under legal aid, a follow-up from their four-month escalating duty counsel strike that ended in April.

“There was quite a great deal of support,” TLABC spokesman Bentley Doyle said of the action, but noted the association has no way to enforce a boycott and the province will likely find some lawyers who will take the cases of accused rioters.

“The people involved in the battle for legal aid aren’t going to be taking it.”

Lawyers in B.C. argue the province severely underfunds legal aid, citing a growing number of people who appear in court unrepresented.

That could happen with accused rioters, Doyle said, or cases could be delayed.

“They have devoted a great deal of legal resources to prosecuting the riot cases,” he said. “At the same time we’ve been calling for legal aid funding to be increased across the board.”

Legal aid would generally apply in the case of rioters who can’t afford a lawyer and might face jail time.

The boycott only targets new riot cases coming to court, not ones where legal aid lawyers have already been assigned.

Doyle said there have been no overtures from government about increasing legal aid funding.

But he noted an independent review of the criminal justice system is underway, so major changes may be unlikely before review chair Geoffrey Cowper reports back in July.

Crown counsel spokesman Neil MacKenzie said the Criminal Justice Branch has no involvement in the process of how defendants get lawyers, including legal aid.

“It guess that’s a decision for them to make,” he said of the TLABC’s intended boycott. “We’re certainly ready and willing to proceed and we’re doing so on a daily basis as the ongoing cases continue.”

During the legal aid strike, the Legal Services Society of B.C., which administers legal aid with the budget assigned by the province, sent outside lawyers to fill in at courthouses severely affected by the job action.

Legal aid funding has been cut by 27 per cent over the last decade, from $96 million in 2001 to about $67 million.

A public commission into legal aid last year concluded B.C. is failing its most disadvantaged citizens, leaving too many representing themselves and adding to court congestion.

Police on Tuesday announced 19 new charges against seven more suspected rioters from Sidney, Richmond and Port Moody.

Connor Epp, 20, of Maple Ridge, became the 13th rioter to plead guilty so far to a riot-related offence.

Just Posted

BC Wildfire Service (Black Press Media files)
Fire at Eleven Mile Creek near Hope classified as out of control

It’s a small blaze so far at 20 hectares, but firefighters don’t yet have a handle on it

Temperature records were broken for June 21, 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
Record-breaking heat shimmered across Fraser Valley for second day

Tuesday should be a bit cooler says forecast from Environment Canada

Tourism Abbotsford has launched the ‘Let’s Go Do Something’ campaign to encourage visitors to check out all Abbotsford has to offer. (Tourism Abbotsford photo)
Tourism Abbotsford launches ‘Let’s Go Do Something’ campaign

Visitors encouraged to check out all Abbotsford has to offer this summer

Emil Anderson Maintenance is mowing the shoulder along Lougheed Highway in Agassiz, asking motorists to use extra caution around slow-moving vehicles on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Graphic/Emil Anderson Maintenance)
TRAFFIC: Slow-moving mowers working on Highway 7 shoulders in Agassiz on Tuesday, Wednesday

Mowing takes place Tues., Weds. between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

A drone’s-eye view of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. (Screenshot/Shutter Speed Network)
Kent Council advocates for a wider Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge

Council voted unanimously to send letter of concern to transportation ministry

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pilots say no reason to continue quarantines for vaccinated international travellers

Prime minister says Canada still trying to limit number of incoming tourists

When they last met, Giants fell 3-0 to the Prince George Cougars. Both will renew their rivalry in Maple Ridge on Sept. 24. (Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)
Vancouver Giants to play preseason games in Maple Ridge, Delta

Exhibition schedule will start in September

Police closed off 16th Avenue between 232nd and 240th streets in Aldergrove Saturday night at the site of a reported motor vehicle accident. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Survivors of rollover crash thank Good Samaritans for coming to their aid

Collision flipped vehicle into a 10-foot ditch on 16th Avenue in Langley

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

Most Read