Monday, March 20, 2017

Penalty Box

An interim suspension was imposed over an attorney's objection by the Hearing Division Tribunal of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Timminspress.com has part of the story

Local politician Todd Lever is facing criminal charges after he caused a scene at a hockey game in Timmins on Saturday night and refused to leave until Timmins Police officers forcefully removed him from the McIntyre Arena.

Lever, who is a former city councillor as well as a past candidate for both mayor and Member of Parliament, is being charged with one count of causing a disturbance, and one count of resisting arrest.

The game in question was between the Timmins Rock and the Powassan Voodoos, which was taking place as part of the Hometown Hockey Tour; a highly-promoted public event which had attracted a crowd of more than 1,600 to the arena.

As always, the Timmins Police are releasing few details about their version of events at the game. But in a statement, police spokesperson Marc Depatie described the allegations.

“A man is alleged to have become openly belligerent and began shouting profanities at the players and the referees. At one point the game was halted to have the man’s comportment addressed by means of a game ejection issued by the referee. The man is further alleged to have refused to comply with the ejection,” wrote Depatie. “Despite physically resisting the officers, the man was eventually removed from the arena by the Timmins Police Service.”

Lever, who is a lawyer by profession, has been released from custody and is scheduled to respond to the charges on Jan. 10.

The incident at the arena on Saturday night was well documented by bystanders who took pictures of ever climbing up on the glass surrounding the player benches and penalty boxes, as well as video of his removal by police and security. All of which went up on social media.

Mayor Steve Black was one of many who criticized Lever's behaviour during the game, but later asked people to be compassionate in their comments.

“I know this was not normal for him, more so after seeing it escalate to the level it did,” wrote Black online. “I am not excusing the actions of this weekend as they were disappointing for all involved when the national spotlight was on our community (or even if it wasn't).

"All I am saying is sometimes we don't understand what people are dealing with and we can all be quick to judge, myself included. And it would be best if we support those in our community who may need a little extra support.”

None of the allegations against Lever have been proven in court.

The tribunal 

The motion record before us provides evidence that since November 26, 2016, the Lawyer has:

1. been charged with causing a disturbance and resisting arrest contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada after an incident at a local hockey game;

2. held a press conference at which he revealed he was experiencing a mental health crisis caused in part by his failure to take medication;

3. appeared in court on January 10, 2017 and represented that he acted for two accused, when counsel for those individuals confirmed that the Lawyer had not been so retained;

4. advised the Law Society Investigator that his “mind is racing” and he is having a “live melt down.”  He also told the Investigator that he had been lost for four days while driving on a back road;

5. advised, at an interview with the Law Society, that he is not willing to take medication as part of his treatment and has not taken medication recently prescribed for him; and

6. been involved in a number of confrontations with other lawyers in public and at the courthouse.

His response

The Lawyer states he is aware he needs help. He urged us not to suspend his licence pending the hearing of this motion, but instead to impose practice restrictions including supervision of his practice.

Decision

In considering an adjournment request, a panel may take into account, among other things, prejudice to a person, the timing of the request, the requirement for a fair hearing and the public interest (Rule 14 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure). Mr. Lever wishes to respond to the Law Society’s evidence which he only received today. He also seeks time to submit his medical records and evidence of his recent efforts to seek help. Counsel for the Law Society agreed that an adjournment could be granted but submitted that an interim suspension as part of the terms of that adjournment is necessary in the public interest. We agree.

There is evidence before us that the Lawyer’s ability to meet his obligations to the public, to the courts and to his colleagues is being presently affected by his recent behaviour. We have balanced his fair hearing rights and the potential prejudice of proceeding today in the absence of all his records and information, against the public interest in ensuring that licensees are able to meet their obligations. 

Timmonstoday had an update on the criminal charges from this January

Lever represented himself at his first court appearance on the charges, a time usually used to arrive at a mutually acceptable trial date between the Crown and accused.

Lever told the court there are potentially 1,800 witnesses that he can call at trial and that will take a long time.

“Procedurally there will be 1,800 witnesses called and those witness will include every member of the Timmins Rock, every member of the Powassan Voodoos, every attendee of the hockey game were all witnesses at this event,” Lever said.

“The witnesses will include, anyone who captured cell phone video footage, that was posted on Facebook and then taken off,” continued Lever. “The witnesses will also include most of the police officers that worked that night, all the police officers who were involved in my arrest, in front of my father, and the 200 fans that I purchased tickets for.”

“So this is going to be the trial of the century in Timmins,” Lever said. “I do not know how long it is going to take, but I ask the Crown attorney right now to do the right thing and withdraw the charges.”

“That’s the procedure,” concluded Lever. “Now if the Crown wants to elect to proceed to trial that’s fine or they could do the right thing and withdraw the charges completely.”

Crown Attorney Dale Cox responded by saying he was prepared to go to trial.

Talktimmins had details on the hockey-related conduct.

As to what caused him to act the way he did, Lever said it was a few things.

“I was admittedly fired up at the game and was trying to get the team fired up and prodding the Powassan Voodoos,” he wrote. “I was upset with Paul Gagne who had them playing like the Timmins Zombies, not the Timmins Rock.

“I was also more than a little upset that Steve Sullivan and Frank Mahovlich had been honoured, but my uncle, Don Lever, wasn’t even asked to come to the game.”

Mahovlivh’s Toronto Maple Leafs banner was one of the two raised at the McIntyre Arena as the culmination of the Hometown Hockey event.

He went on to say how his uncle was a much better player than Mahovlich, and also had some criticism for broadcaster Ron MacLean who was in Timmins as part of the event.

(Mike Frisch)

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