Thursday, August 29, 2013

Retired judge resigns from review of police use-of-force policies over conflict-of-interest concerns

Former judge Dennis O'Connor has ties to the police through his law firm.
A retired judge appointed by Toronto’s police chief to look into use-of-force policies has stepped down from the review, citing conflict-of-interest concerns raised by victims’ families.

Dennis O’Connor announced late Wednesday that he was withdrawing because he works for a law firm that also acts for the insurers of the Toronto Police Service in civil suits — some of which include allegations of excessive and lethal force.

Judge O’Connor was the associate chief justice of Ontario’s Appeal Court for 10 years and conducted inquiries into both the Walkerton water tragedy in Ontario and the rendition and torture of Maher Arar, a Canadian of Syrian descent.

He said neither he nor Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair thought his association with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP would affect the advice he would give, but he decided to back out because he did not want the issue to distract from the review.

“After the announcement, we were surprised by the objections raised by lawyers for some of the victims’ families to my conducting the review,” Judge O’Connor wrote in a statement.  (more...)

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