Rates “insulting” for the defense in the Court of appeal

Des tarifs «insultants» pour la défense en Cour d’appel

Me Sebastien St-Laurent evaluates 2.86 $ per hour salary to represent Bryan Demers-Thibeault (photo), paid in may 2017, a first-degree murder, in the Court of appeal.

January 18, 2020 4: 00


Rates “insulting” for the defense in the Court of appeal

Des tarifs «insultants» pour la défense en Cour d’appel

Isabelle Mathieu

The Sun


Any lawyer of sound mind would work for the equivalent of $ 2.86 per hour?

This is the question that the counsel for the defence Me Sebastien St-Laurent poses to the Court of appeal, denouncing the legal aid tariff, which, he said, violate the right of his client Bryan Demers-Thibeault, 34, to be represented by counsel of its choice in the bidding procedures.

May 2017 Demers-Thibeault, has been acquitted of first-degree murder. The Crown claimed that he had killed Stéphane Cormier in 2011 in Drummondville. This is Me, St-Laurent, who represented Demers-Thibault during the five weeks of jury trial, with a legal aid tariff of about $ 800 per day.

The Crown wants a new trial against Demers-Thibeault, a man who has spent most of his adult life behind bars. He is serving a life sentence for the murder of her co-chambreur Robert Lepage in Quebec city in 2014.

The hearing in the Court of appeal is scheduled for march 31 next.

Demers-Thibeault is still eligible for legal aid. But the rates, in the Court of appeal, have nothing to do with those stipulated in the government regulation for trial for murder in the first instance.

In total, Mr. St-Laurent will receive $ 800 for the writing of a thesis in order to respond to the arguments of the public ministry are on… 2317 pages.

The defense lawyer, who has done a thirty jury trials in 20 years of practice, assesses it will need 280 hours of work to make the memory. Where the hourly rate of $ 2.86 per.

At the end of a file, a lawyer can claim a bonus of the amount due to special considerations. It was, however, no guarantee of getting it.

The lawyer is convinced that the tariffs “derisory and insulting” violate article 7 of the Charter of rights and freedoms of Canada which protects the autonomy and the legal rights, personal an individual against the actions of the government.”

“The Government of Quebec, with the assistance of the Quebec Bar, which ratifies the Agreement for very many years, has institutionalized the botched job and overlooked by not paying the lawyers to accept legal aid of decent way, wrote Me St-Laurent in his application to the Court of appeal. Lawyers accepting legal aid, like any worker, provide a service equal to the compensation received : the quality of the work performed is a reflection of the fees paid. This system allows for certainly the Government of Quebec to save significant amounts of money, but at the expense of the protection of the public and of the constitutional rights of the accused.”

The defence counsel has, therefore, refused to take the mandate of legal aid for Demers-Thibeault. Because of the complexity of the case and the seriousness of the issue, he asked the Court of appeal to appoint as attorney in the cause, and to order the State to pay its fees. The lawyer will claim $ 400 per period of preparation and of the hearing for a maximum of 70 periods.

A permanent legal aid

The legal services Board intervened in the folder because it has a different solution; it may appoint a lawyer standing in the legal aid in Sherbrooke to defend Bryan Demers-Thibeault in the Court of appeal.

It is adding injury to the insult, replied to Me St-Laurent. The legal services Commission, who does not want to pay the prices decent, the lawyer chosen by the defendant, and impose its own counsel, summarizes-t-it. “I submit that it affects the integrity of the judicial system”, pleads Me to St-Laurent river, in a courtroom full of lawyers of the defence.

Sitting at the end of a large meeting table, in a room in the penitentiary, Bryan Demers-Thibeault listening to the debate through videoconferencing.

The judges of the Court of appeal took the request under advisement.

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