Criminal Justice

Shaken Defense Lawyers Decry Violent Attacks on Two Colleagues in Organized Crime Megatrial

For the second time in less than a year, a lawyer representing a defendant in a Canadian organized crime megatrial involving a number of Hell’s Angels has been violently attacked near his home in Montreal.

Gilles Doré, 58, was beaten badly in the upscale Outremont area of the city on Friday. He is expected to recover and was able to speak to police over the weekend in his hospital room. However, authorities say there have been no developments in the case since then, the Canadian Press reports.

The motive does not appear clear:

Another defense lawyer, Joseph La Leggia, who was similarly attacked near his Montreal home in December, also represented a defendant in the same trial.

But attorney Richard Prihoda tells the Montreal Gazette he doubts there was any connection to the trial, since it was going well. He is president of the Montreal Defence Lawyers’ Association.

Prihoda and others in the local bar decried the attack on Doré, calling for an all-out police investigation on what they described as an attack on the justice system.

“I hope they’re taking it as seriously as they would if a few crown prosecutors would be victims,” Prihoda told the newspaper, noting: “I can imagine the resources that would be put forward, and I’m hoping the same is being done now.”

He also wonders why defense lawyers, not prosecutors, are apparently being selected for violent attacks.

La Leggia recently returned to work after months of recuperation.

Thomas Kiriazis, a local business practitioner who lives in the same area as Doré, says he was the target of death threats and a firebombing near his home.

Three other Montreal criminal lawyers were shot to death in unsolved slayings that date back more than a decade, the newspapers note:

In 1985, Frank Shoofey was killed outside his office on Cherrier Street.

In 1991, Sidney Leithman was gunned down as he was en route to court to defend Diego José Ganuza in a case related to the Colombian Medellin cartel’s cocaine trade. Within six months of that shooting, Paul Beaudry, 34, was shot to death by two assailants in his glass-walled law office in Old Montreal, as six or more employees witnessed the crime.

Benoît Gariépy is a criminal lawyer who shared an office with Doré. Gariépy told the Globe and Mail that he himself doesn’t represent defendants in cases involving alleged organized crime figures in part because of the danger involved.

Another criminal lawyer, Eric Sutton, said organized crime megatrials are risky and hard to manage. “What can happen is that, in the course of defending your client, you can end up harming the interests of a co-accused and that results in friction or reprisals,” he said.

Additional coverage:

The Gazette: “Montreal defence lawyer Gilles Doré assaulted”

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