Toronto lawyer looks to end ‘incivility’ legal saga – by Jacques Gallant (Toronto Star – October 22, 2016)

Joe Groia has fought charge that he was rude and disruptive during Bre-X trial at every level of court.

As Joe Groia puts it, people don’t hire a lawyer because they’re nice and polite. “Clients hire lawyers because they believe that the lawyer is all that stands between them and disaster.” He would know.

The Toronto securities lawyer has been embroiled in a near decade-long battle with the Law Society of Upper Canada, the body that regulates the legal profession in Ontario, over his “incivility” conviction — basically being rude and disruptive in the courtroom at the trial of his former client, Bre-X Minerals executive John Felderhof.

Groia was suspended for two months and ordered to pay nearly $250,000 (later reduced to one month and $200,000). He has yet to actually serve the suspension as he has fought that penalty at every level of court — spending far more than the $200,000 he was ordered to pay by the Law Society Tribunal after his disciplinary proceedings.

By his own estimate, he’s spent nearly $1 million of his own money and another $1 million in his firm’s time and resources. Groia is now at the very end of the road in his fight to overturn his conviction and suspension. He is asking for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, hoping Canada’s top court — unlike the courts below it — will see things his way.

His case has pitted those in the legal profession and academia who say defence lawyers must be zealous advocates in order to protect their clients’ best interests against those who say it’s crucial that a forceful defence be properly balanced against courtesy and respect.

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