Student Legal Services History - 1980s

1980

Steering Committee – Vaughan Meyers (chair), Larry Anderson, Larry Phillippe, Alison Beames, Jill Flett, Peter Englemann, Beth Miller and Rita Rixor

 

The SLS budget was enormous in 1980. 41 students were hired for the summer, an all time high. Publications included the new “Layman’s Lawbook” and “Under 18 – You and the Law”.

 

SLS also made a number of media appearances that year – from television to radio talk shows.

 

Again the credit-for-SLS issue arose and was rejected on grounds that SLS may become subject to faculty control, and students may do SLS work for a motive other than a the desire to be involved in helping the poor.

 

In Calgary, a judge stated that he would no longer hear Calgary Legal Guidance students in his court. Fearful that something similar may happen in Edmonton, SLS sent letters expressing concern. SLS also contemplated a mandamus application to compel the judge to hear students. There was no need for such drastic action, however, as the Calgary judge issued a letter stating that he did not realize he would cause such a stir.
In the summer of 1980, Tony de Jong returned to SLS as a part time advising lawyer, joining Professor Ron Hopp.

 

1981

Steering Committee – Charalee Graydon (Chair), Lynda Shorten, Sheila Noonan, Brit Griffin, Rick Stroppel, Alan Rudakoff, Pat Lane and Wayne Alford.

 

This year brought a number of organizational changes to SLS. On the advice of the Alberta Law Foundation, a full-time administrator was hired and began work with SLS in April of 1981. As well, a committee of advisors was set up, which consisted of two practicing lawyers, a chartered accountant, a representative of the community and the chairperson of SLS. The SLS Steering Committee also drafted a set of by-laws for the organization.

 

In addition to Ron Hopp and Tony de Jong, advising lawyers Renee Cochard, Jim Kindrake, and Marilyn White joined on a part-time basis.

 

The Family Law Project put together a volunteer handbook and a divorce clinic guide. That Project also teamed up with the Legal Reform Project in holding a public conference entitled “Women and Legal Reform”. The conference was one practical expression of the concern of Legal Reform that year with women’s issues. The conference ran for three days and involved 200 participants and 40 speakers.

 

1982

Steering Committee – Dora Koop (Chair), Natalie Kozup, Kelly Dawson, Chereda Bodner, Leanne Chahley, Neena Ahluwalia, Kevin Guidera and Marg Unsworth.

 

This year, the Steering Committee decided that it would be useful for SLS members to volunteer as board members of other organizations. As a result, for example, the Legal Reform director volunteered for the board of the Elizabeth Fry Society. Other efforts by SLS to expand its link to the community included a program set up by Legal Reform that saw SLS workers visiting the Youth Emergency Shelter and the Youth Development Shelter on a weekly basis.

 

The Legal Reform project sponsored a day-long conference on child abuse. The conference formed part of a general effort by SLS that year to expand its public legal education offerings. A media information campaign was carried out, and a series of new pamphlets was issued, including topics such as driver’s licence suspensions, bail, and a general pamphlet on SLS. The pamphlet design was also standardized.

 

The West-10 Project merged with the Corrections project, and Chereda Bodner served as the director of both.

 

1983

Steering Committee – West Munson (chair), Joyce Lester, Dale Knisely, Colleen Webb, Mark Asbell, Basil Barnes, Brenda Scragg and Peter Northcott.

 

West-10, under director Joyce Lester, started to expand its jurisdiction to fill an urgent need for clinical work in Stony Plain Provincial Court. The project also assumed the responsibility of continuing the popular Edmonton City Police Ride-Along Program and expanded its services to the clientele of the Youth Emergency Shelter.

 

SLS continued to produce informational pamphlets including the writing and/or revising of pamphlets on Matrimonial Property, Change of Name, Adoption, Seperation, a Sample Seperation Agreement, Office Procedure, a Do-Your-Own-Divorce Clinic Procedure manual, and Annulment. A “Mothers and the Law” Pamphlet was also drafted.

 

In 1983, extensive research was carried out exploring the possibility of a Youth Project Office where workers would be able to assist needy youth in Juvenile Court. Legal Education, under director Mark Asbell, foresaw a role for SLS in this area pending the proclamation of the Young Offenders Act.

 

1984

Steering Committee – Tim Wood (Chairperson), Ted Olsen, Craig Krieger, Dave Stam, Kathy Denhoff, Kim Ewaskow, Peter Unruh, Jack Braithwaite, Bernita Reitmeyer

 

As Chairperson, Tim Wood continued to push for a Youth Project. Extensive research was conducted and many meetings were held to determine what role SLS could play in the new Young Offenders Act scheme. Legal Aid was approached on several occassions, as was a judge with the Youth Court. In the end, SLS decided to take a less assertive approach due to the fact that the Act itself entited young persons the right to court appointed counsel, as well as the concern that the Law Foundation had indicated that SLS funding would diminish in 1985.

 

The Steering Committee faced the task of deciding how to deal with the anticipated 25 per cent decrease in funding. Two ideas included amalgamating the West-10 office with the other criminal law offices, and eliminating the Legal Reform Project. In the end, the Reform Project was kept, and fundraising was added to the Administrator’s job description.

 

In the spring of 1984, the administrator resigned and was replaced. Anne McLellan, one of the SLS advising lawyers, resigned. Due to financial concerns, she was not replaced.

 

1985

Steering Committee – Jack Braithwaite (Chairperson), Dawn Pentelechuk, Steve Lowry, Ken Crook, Tita de Rousseau, Elaine Barr, Bill McMullen, Jim Casey and Karen Rix.

 

As anticipated, this year was characterized by funding concerns. A budget cut of 25 per cent (about $90 000) was the greatest financial setback in SLS history. It was also the first time SLS would have to look outside its usual sources for funding. A fundraising committee was formed. Thankfully, thanks to funding from SEED (a federal job creation program), no projects had to be cut.The second major issue of the year was the direction that SLS was taking. Jack Brathwaite sought to make greater contact with the community, allowing it to define the role that SLS could play.

 

Under Ken Crook, the Legal Reform Project visited the Edmonton Institution to give lectures to inmates about criminal law, administrative law and
evidence. Legal Reform also assisted an umployment action group called “The Dandelions” on a case.

 

The SLS McLeod Office officially opened on July 2, 1985. The move from the Boyle Street Co-op to the McLeod Building was done for three reasons: the new office provided modern facilities and was obtained from the provincial government on a three year contract for $1, the Boyle Street Co-op was looking to move to a new building and tear down their existing facility, and statistics were showing that the organization was no longer truly reaching the Boyle Street residents, but rather was attracting large numbers of downtown and Northeast end impaired drivers.

 

SLS maintained its relationship with the Youth Emergency Shelter, and maintained its contact with WIN House (a women’s shelter). Despite moving to the McLeod Buiding, SLS maintained a strong relationship with the Boyle Street Co-op.

 

The organization maintained a high community profile that year. There were talk shows on CJCA and K-97, articles in the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun, columns in news weeklies and events such as moot court sessions on television. As well, an information display was prepared and taken to malls and libraries. The display posed legal questions and provided answers, and pointed people to further sources of information.

 

1986

Steering Committee – Jo-Ann Kolmes (chairperson), Don McGarvey, Jim Casey, Dan Levert, Bob Aloneissi, Ken Heintz, Sharon Stefanyk and Margaret Rose.

 

By this point, seven projects were in existence. There were case offices located in the McLeod Building, on Whyte Avenue (10424 82 Avenue) and the West-10 Office (10991A 124 Street). The other four projects (Administrative Law, Family Law, Legal Education, and Legal Research & Reform) were located on campus. Collectively, the Projects served approximately 10 000 people.

 

Tony de Jong continued as the advising lawyer for the case offices and Administrative Law project. Renee Cochard continued to serve as the Family Law advising lawyer. The Committee of Advisors included lawyers Jim Robb, Deborah Miller and Brian Beresh, chartered accountant Dale Cawsey, Gary Shanks of Native Counselling, and Michael Farris of the Youth Emergency Shelter.

 

One major trend in 1986 was a renewed effort to cooperate with various community groups on their new initiatives. Representatives from the Family and Administative Law Projects began visiting the Boyle Street Co-op on a weekly basis to give talks on the law and provide information on an
individual basis. The Legal Reform Project worked with the Edmonton Social Planning Council exploring ways for SLS to assist in their welfare advocacy. Legal Reform also worked with the Boyle Street Co-op on an project addressing concerns of the Boyle Street community residents about solvent abuse. SLS continued its weekly information seessions at the Youth Emergency Shelter and at WIN House. SLS also initiated a project to provide materials to teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) course to be used for legal education for new Canadians.

 

As in the previous year, students working in the case offices had developed some interesting Charter defences. For example, the validity of the ALERT roadside breath device was successfully challenged under Section 15 (equality). The Criminal Code provision providing for the ALERT device had been proclaimed in Alberta, but not in some other provinces. It was argued therefore that the uneven use of the ALERT test across Canada amounted to an unequal application of the law, and constituted a violation of section 15.

 

A second Charter defence involved the right to counsel under section 10(b). SLS argued on behalf of a non-English speaking new Canadian that the failure of police to provide an interpreter when reading Charter rights amounted to a section 10(b) violation. The defence succeeded in having a breathalyzer certificate excluded as evidence.

 

In Administrative Law, students provided information and assisted with landlord/tenant matters, consumer law matters, immigration, etc. The project also began work on Workers’ Compensation appeals, and helped a “lifers” group at the Edmonton Institution become incorporated as a society so that it could carry out its own projects, including a Charter challenge on laws which prevented prisoners from voting.

 

General information and assistance for prison inmates continued through the Corrections Project, which was still amalgamated with the West-10 office.

Legal Education published a new teachers’ guide to accompany the school lecture / mock trial program. Family Law provided do-your-own-divorce
clinics for people on low incomes determined to the work on their own. In addition to its work with community groups, Legal Research and Reform began exploring a special problem area in consumer law with the view of presenting a brief to the provincial government recommending reform. The problem involved creditors, especially collection agencies, who were pursuing small claims sized matters in the Court of Queen’s Bench, which presented difficulty for those who could not afford a lawyer to represent them in that Court.

 

A centralized precendent file was begun, and policy positions from over the years were compiled to help members and the public understand where the organization stood.

 

1987

Steering Committee – Peter Michalyshyn (chair), Sara Adamson, Grant Dunlop, Rod Gregory, Leslie Howatt, Richard Tyo, Ed O’Neill, Steven Phillips and Carol Torfason.

 

In January of 1987, the ’86 and ’87 steering committees collectively decided to run a pilot project, whereby all offices would provide an integrated legal service (civil, criminal and family law), rather than having each office offer a different service. It was felt that this “one stop shop” would better serve the community by making SLS more accessible, and provide a better educational experience for students.

 

The high interest rates of the late 80’s allowed for the seven projects to continue full force, and the hiring of 34 summer staff. New initiatives included a “duty counsel” service at the Sherwood Park and Stony Plain Provincial Courts during docket days, the organization of a Police Ride-Along Program, and tours of the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Institute, the Edmonton Institution, and the Edmonton Remand Centre. The Administrative Law Project officially changed its name to the Civil Law Project in May, and a new specialized Administrative Law Project was established. Erin Oor and Deborah Alford appeared on the I.T.V. program, “Good, Good Morning” to speak about Small Claims Court.

 

The Southside Project moved from Whyte Avenue to 7603 – 104 Street, and the West-End Project moved to 15517 Stony Plain Road.

 

1988

Steering Committee – Mike Demers (Chair), Brent Handel, Karen Gertsma, Sabri Shawa, Brad Madill, Rob O’Neill, Tom Lloyd, Diana Dahlstedt.

 

Membership increased this year to 210, and 32 people were hired for the summer months.

 

In January, the new Administrative Law Project began operations. The new project combined elements from Civil Law and the West End/Corrections Projects, as well as expanding into areas involving administrative tribunals that SLS had not previously handled.

 

Due to budget constraints, the Legal Education discontinued its “Public Information Seminars”, and the Westend/Corrections Project cancelled its Duty Counsel service in the Stony Plain Provincial Court.

 

In June, SLS held tours of the Fort Saskatchewan Correctional Institute, the Edmonton Institution and the Edmonton Remand Centre. That same month, a review of the Criminal Law Projects was conducted with the aim of improving communication between them and coordinating the procedures that were followed.

 

SLS also sought to increase its profile with community service organizations, delivering lectures to staff members of groups such as the John Howard Society, A.A.D.A.C. and the Elizabeth Fry Society. SLS representatives also became involved in the Boyle Street Co-op Pilot Project.

 

On August 9, a meeting was held between representatives of SLS and Legal Aid to exchange information and concerns about our two organizations.

Strong ties with the Faculty of Law enabled SLS to secure its office space at the Law Centre and gain additional space for the 1989 year.

SLS acquired its first two computers, DecMate III’s, dedicated to student use this year.

 

1989

Steering Committee – Curtis Bunz (Chairperson), Katherine Arnold, Brent Handel, Karan Gertsma, Sabri Shawa, Brad Madill, Robert O’Neill, Thomas Lloyd and Diana Dahlstedt.

 

The major development of the organization in 1989 was the revisal and reprinting of both the entire pamphlet stock and the Layman’s Law Book. As well, a Civil Law caseworker was placed at the McLeod Office to improve the service to the inner city. In November, the twentieth anniversary of the organization was celebrated with a well attended dinner and dance.

 

A Civil Law caseworker was placed at the McLeod Office for the first time, so as to further diversify the service provided at that location. Confusion over the distinction between the Civil and Administrative Law projects was somewhat alleviated when the Admin. Law Project was given its own office and telephone in July. The Admin. Law project then began to focus on disciplinary hearings at the Edmonton Institution, student appeals at the University of Alberta, and the publication of an Admin. Law Pamphlet.