The bloody assault on a high-profile Quebec criminal lawyer outside his home in a quiet, leafy Montreal neighbourhood has shocked members of the province’s legal community as they ponder the possibility it’s not an isolated incident.
Gilles Doré, a veteran lawyer who has defended alleged members of organized crime, was attacked Friday night and taken to hospital after suffering serious injuries from blows to the head and torso.
He was reported out of danger and in stable condition on Sunday.
The attack is the third in the past year involving threats or violence targeting a Montreal area defence lawyer. Two of the three victims – Mr. Doré and Joseph La Leggia, who was viciously assaulted and badly injured in front of his home last December – have been involved in organized-crime cases.
“I find this very worrisome. There hasn’t been a death yet, but I wonder if it will come to that,” said Benoît Gariépy, a criminal lawyer who says he saw the devastating impact of the attack on Mr. Leggia, with whom he shared office space at the time.
“Personally, I don’t do that kind of work [representing members of the Hells Angels, street gangs or the Mafia] in part because of the danger involved,” Mr. Gariépy said in an interview Sunday.
It’s still too early to say there is a pattern here of reprisals by, say, dissatisfied clients or someone who underwent harsh cross-examination at the hands of one of the targeted lawyers, said Mr. Gariépy. “It’s all very murky.” But government and police authorities should send a strong message that such attacks are reprehensible and will be investigated thoroughly and dealt with forcefully, he said.
There is the danger that criminal lawyers – because they defend and try to free individuals who are sometimes not viewed in the best light by society – might not get the full respect and protection they should be getting, said Mr. Gariépy.
Montreal police Constable Raphael Bergeron said the 58-year-old man assaulted Friday at around 7 p.m. spoke with investigators Saturday night and that one of the questions police asked him is whether he received threats prior to the attack.
Among the well-known cases Mr. Doré has been connected with are the famous biker megatrials about 10 years ago of a group of Hells Angels.
Mr. Doré is also acting in a current court case for some members of the biker gang. The case is the outcome of a major 2009 anti-organized-crime offensive known as Opération SharQc.
Mr. La Leggia, who was attacked last December, was also participating in the defence of individuals accused in trials resulting from SharQc. He has resumed his practice but the investigation into the incident continues.
“These megatrials bring on certain dangers that are difficult to manage and certain risks,” said criminal lawyer Eric Sutton.
“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.”
“It’s one of the reasons I find these megatrials quite insidious and sinister,” he added.
The third lawyer targeted in the past year is Thomas Kiriazis, a specialist in business litigation; he received death threats last month and two vehicles parked in front of his home in Outremont were damaged after a lit Molotov cocktail was thrown at them. He has not been involved in the megatrials.
Mr. Doré has his own case before the Supreme Court of Canada: he is seeking to overturn a lower-court decision that upheld a 21-day Quebec Bar Association suspension over a critical letter he sent to a judge concerning the latter’s comments at a bail hearing in one of the megatrials.
The set-to resulted in the judge being replaced.