Friday, July 6, 2012

The Groia Decision - be very careful if alleging bad faith against a prosecution

Well known Toronto litigator Joseph Groia was found by the Law Society to have engaged in professional misconduct for his conduct during the Felderhof/Bre-X trial.

The decision is lengthy and fairly hard to find (I have a copy if anyone wants a copy; send me a note and I'll email one to you).

Mr Groia did not use profane language, extreme rudeness, violence, harassment or racial epithets. He was found to have made baseless assertions of prosecutorial misconduct.

Some might find that finding problematic insofar as the prosecution did say its goal was "simply" to get a conviction. Beyond that a vigorous exploration of possible prosecutorial misconduct might be seen as a lawyer's duty.

A major problem for Mr. Groia seems to have been his assertive approach. It may be that if he made the same allegations in a less direct fashion (following Cicero's suggestion to put harsh comments into the mouths of others) he could have escaped censure. Certainly, Mr. Groia used strong (but non-profane) language.

Courts considering appeals from the trial decision of the substantive case was unhappy with Mr. Groia ("Mr. Groia's defence consists largely of attacks on the prosecution, including attacks on the prosecutor's integrity"). That was a significant factor in the Law Society's decision.

The lesson is to be very cautious about alleging bad faith against a prosecution and even then to couch the allegation in as neutral language as possible.


Noel Semple said...

Thanks for this. I would be grateful if you can send me the decision : mail (at)

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