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

Xauni de Figeuiroa of Abbotsford has been selected to attend a virtual space camp hosted by the Canadian Space Agency at the end of July.
Abbotsford student selected to attend virtual space camp

Xauni de Figeuiroa among 52 youth selected from across Canada

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

A program of the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation enables patients to thank their health-care workers.
Fraser Valley program enables patients to say thanks to their health-care workers

Philip Harris Grateful Patient Program offered through health care foundation

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

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

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read