A criminal defence lawyer who has represented members of organized crime in many high-profile cases, was assaulted outside his home last Friday, making it the third Montreal lawyer who has either been attacked or received death threats over the past year.
Gilles Doré suffered a serious head injury, and is now reported to be in stable condition, according to The Montreal Gazette.
Doré gained notoriety within Quebec’s legal community for writing a stinging personal letter to a judge, criticizing him for being pedant, cantankerous, and petty. The letter, replete with insults and personal attacks according to the Quebec Court of Appeal, was handed to Quebec Superior Court Chief Justice Lyse Lemieux, who forwarded it to the syndic (or investigating officer) of the Barreau du Québec. The syndic filed a complaint before the Barreau’s disciplinary committee, accusing Doré of writing an disrespectful letter, that lacked objectivity, moderation and dignity, thereby contravening s.2.03 of the Quebec Code of ethics of advocates (Code). The disciplinary committee found Doré guilty of the infraction, and suspended him from practicing for 21 days. Doré appealed the verdict before the Professions Tribunal and Quebec Superior Court, both of whom rejected the appeal.
In upholding the rulings by the lower courts, the Quebec Court of Appeal found that writing letters is a constitutional right, and that the disciplinary decision violated the appellant’s freedom of expression. “It remains now to determine whether this decision is a reasonable restriction that can be justified in a free and democratic society,” said Justice André Rochon in an 18-page ruling.
That case is now before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Last month, another Montreal lawyer was the victim of a series of death threats and intimidation, with two vehicles parked in front of his home were firebombed.
Last December Joseph La Leggia, a well-respected lawyer, was attacked and left badly injured in front of his home. His case too remains unsolved.