|For immediate release||January 25, 1999|
Law Society President asks public to wait on Shaw decision
VANCOUVER - Law Society President, Warren Wilson, Q.C., has asked the public to allow the justice system to do its job without the kind of unfair criticism being levelled at The Hon. Mr. Justice Duncan Shaw, the BC Supreme Court judge in the Regina v. Sharpe child pornography Charter case.
"In the past week, the public outcry against Mr. Justice Shaw’s decision has ranged from the rational to the hysterical," said Mr. Wilson. "Although as British Columbians we enjoy the freedom to comment on judicial decisions, we must also be responsible enough to allow the justice system to do its work independently and completely. Our democratic society gives citizens the right to have their cases heard in court, to appeal decisions and to continue the appeal process to the Supreme Court of Canada. It is equally important that judges be independent of government or pressure group influence. These checks and balances are in place for the protection and freedom of all British Columbians and we should keep them in mind before we judge the system and its servants too harshly."
"In this case, we know that the Crown will be appealing the BC Supreme Court decision. Should the Court of Appeal overturn Mr. Justice Shaw’s decision, so be it. Should it not, then our elected representatives may consider the effect of this decision and act or not act as they see fit," said Wilson.
Mr. Wilson also criticized some members of the public and the media for their personal attacks on the judge who presided over the case. "The verbal assaults and threats against Mr. Justice Shaw are both shocking and inappropriate," said Wilson. "Mr. Justice Shaw is a fine man. Throughout his career, he has served the justice system in an exemplary fashion and it is of deep concern to the Law Society that his decision, in spite of its controversy, has sparked such venom. No judge, nor anyone else involved in the justice system, should be subjected to such abuse. We suggest that the justice system be allowed to proceed along its course without damage by any further maliciousness."
With over 9,000 members, the Law Society of British Columbia is the governing body for the BC legal profession. Its senior elected official is the President and its chief executive officer is the Executive Director. The Benchers are members of the Board of Directors. The Law Society’s principal responsibility is to uphold and protect the public interest in the administration of justice and set standards for the education, professional responsibility and competence of practising lawyers in the province.
For more information, contact:
Elizabeth Cordeau, Public Affairs Manager
604-443-5724 or 1-800-903-5300 toll-free in B.C.