Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Seeking Solutions

Seeking solutions

The Goudge Inquiry (www.goudgeinquiry.ca) has commissioned an extensive series of research papers. One will examine whether there is adequate legal aid funding for defence experts in criminal cases involving child deaths.

The imbalance between the financial resources of the state and ordinary citizens when it comes to hiring experts is a big issue internationally.

In England, trial judges no longer have the power to order the government to pick the costs of a defence expert. "The defence has to persuade the legal services commission to grant funding," says barrister Edward Henry.

Closer to home, Legal Aid Ontario pays psychologists and psychiatrists who testify as expert witnesses up to $325 for a half day's work — well below what many would charge privately paying clients.