Extremely Serious Criminal Matters (ESM) panel standards
Extremely Serious Criminal Matters are defined as youth or adult trials, appeals or extraditions of:
- All murder charges
- All dangerous offender applications
- All charges with a mandatory minimum penitentiary sentence of four years or more
- Charges contained in Criminal Code sections 83.2 to 83.22 related to terrorism.
See list of ESM offences in Appendix A.
The following are Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO) mandatory requirements for admission to and retention on the Extremely Serious Criminal Matters panel:
To be admitted to the Extremely Serious Criminal Matters panel, a lawyer shall be a member of Legal Aid Ontario’s criminal panel and:
- have a minimum of 5 years of 100 per cent criminal practice concentration or the equivalent, and
- within the last 5 years have:
- conducted 100 days of contested trials or contested preliminary inquiries;
- acted as counsel, co‑counsel or junior counsel on at least one jury trial;
- conducted a minimum of 5 voir dires with issues of similar fact, statements, hearsay and/or expert evidence; and
- conducted a minimum of 5 contested Charter applications (disclosure, search and seizure, detention or arrest, right to counsel, 11(b), abuse of process).
Note: An applicant who has been certified as a specialist in criminal law by the Law Society of Upper Canada shall be deemed to meet the above standard.
District area director’s discretion
The Extremely Serious Criminal Matters panel standards shall apply across the province. The district area director shall have the discretion to empanel a lawyer who may not fully meet the standards, if the district area director deems the panel member to have the necessary skills and experience. In the interest of ensuring quality service, a district area director shall have the discretion to require such an applicant to enhance his/her knowledge through professional development and/or being mentored, as deemed appropriate.
Authorization of junior counsel on Extremely Serious Criminal Matters
LAO may authorize junior counsel on Extremely Serious Criminal Matters, where deemed appropriate by the district area director, in the interest of ensuring an adequate supply of qualified Extremely Serious Criminal Matters panel members to meet current and future needs.
If the client’s counsel of choice does not meet the Extremely Serious Criminal Matters requirements, the client’s counsel of choice may be authorized to junior with a lawyer on the Extremely Serious Criminal Matters panel, as deemed appropriate.
Admission to the Extremely Serious Criminal Matters panel
To be admitted to the Extremely Serious Criminal Matters panel, an applicant shall apply for empanelment and certify that s/he meets the standards set out by LAO for the Extremely Serious Criminal Matters panel.
Legal Aid Ontario expectations for Extremely Serious Criminal Matters panel members
Legal Aid Ontario expects members of the Extremely Serious Criminal Matters Panel to possess the following abilities:
- Develop a research plan and analyze the research
- Develop an appropriate theory
- Develop strategy
- Negotiate a plea
- Negotiate sentence
The ability to conduct:
- Pretrial motions and voir dires
- Charter voir dires and charter exclusions
- Motions related to form and substance of informations and indictments
- Examination, cross-examination and re-examination of witnesses, including expert witnesses, child witnesses and hostile witnesses
- The tendering and challenging of documentary evidence
- Adjournment of trial
- Motion for directed verdict
- Submissions on fact and law
- Opening and closing addresses
- Reopening the case
- Jury selection including challenges for cause and peremptory challenges
- In a jury trial: pre-charge conference, responding to jury questions, and objecting to the charge
- Contested sentencing hearings
Extremely Serious Criminal Matters offences
Criminal Code Section
|465(1)(a)||Conspiracy to Murder|
|220(a)||Criminal Negligence Causing Death (Firearm)|
|239(a)||Attempt Murder (Firearm)|
|244||Causing Bodily Harm with Intent (Firearm)|
|272(2)(a)||Sexual Assault (Firearm)|
|273(2)(a)||Aggravated Sexual Assault (Firearm)|
|83.2||Commission of Offence for Terrorist Group|
|83.21||Instruct to Carry out Activity for Terrorist Group|
|83.22||Instruct to Carry out Terrorist Activity|