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Mother Denied Legal Aid

January 21, 2009 permalink

When a murderer is tried, he gets a lawyer, even if he cannot afford one, because every accused person is entitled to competent counsel. Murderers yes. Mothers no. We copy below a reply to an Ontario mother who asked for legal representation to allow her to have contact with her sons who are crown wards. The wording of the rejection shows that legal aid considers the actions of children's aid to define the best interest of the child.



Yvonne Craig, reasons:

This appeal, by letter of appeal by the applicant, from the refusal of a legal aid certificate by the Area Committee at Windsor on November 26, 2008, comes to me by way of Section 30(2) of the Legal Aid Services Act, 1998. The applicant applied for legal aid in order to bring an application for access to her two sons who are Crown wards without access.

I have carefully considered the material in this application, including the submissions of the applicant contained in her letter of appeal, the accompanying documents and the submissions of counsel. I have also had the opportunity to speak to the applicant by telephone in order to receive additional information. I have concluded that the Area Committee correctly decided that there is insufficient merit to the application to justify the provision of a legal aid certificate.

I am sympathetic to the applicant's wish to have access to her children and to ensure that they know her. The legal test for access is whether it would be in the best interests of the children. A previous status review application, concluded in 2005, resulted in the applicant withdrawing an application for access to these children. The applicant was granted access to her eldest child at that time. It appears that the CAS opposed the access to the two boys and the Children's Lawyer did not support access. I agree with the Area Committee's assessment that there is insufficient information to support a conclusion that the Court would likely to find that access at this time is in the best interests of these two children, in view of the length of time that has passed since the applicant has had contact with them and their stable placement in foster care.

Accordingly, I am upholding the decision of the Area Committee.

Source: Email from Yvonne Craig