Celebrity CBC Radio Host Jian Ghomeshi has been charged in Toronto, Canada, with four counts of sexual assault and one count of overcoming resistance by choking. Ghomeshi was the host of a popular CBC Radio show called Q. Last month, as multiple allegations began to surface, his show was canceled. The allegations have quickly ballooned into a media circus with approximately fifteen women coming forward who have made similar accusations. To make matters even more challenging for the criminal lawyer representing Mr. Ghomeshi, he wrote a 1500 word statement on Facebook after the CBC canceled his radio show saying they were making a moral judgement of him for enjoying consensual “rough sex” and BDSM. He also filed a lawsuit against CBC before dropping it earlier this week.
Since then he has wised up and hired famed Toronto lawyer Marie Henein, who colleagues have described as a fearless and brilliant lawyer and “as fine a lawyer as this country has.” Some news articles have described Henein and her firm as looking like they are straight out of an HBO TV Drama. But Henein is very much the real deal. She is one of the most respected criminal lawyers in Canada and has represented a number of high profile defendants.
The CBC article goes on to describe a lecture she gave in 2010 at the University of Windsor law school where she spoke about the anatomy of the defense narrative. She said that “the importance of developing your narrative starts from the moment the client walks into your office.” “It drives everything that you do, your analysis of the law, your comments to the media, your approach with experts and witnesses. It defines your cross-examination and your examination,” she said. “Each question you ask, you have to advance your theory. Each witness and each exhibit, each conversation you have with the Crown, is about advancing the fabric of the defense narrative.”
There is no doubt that Marie Henein is a true advocate. She couldn’t be more right. A true defender understands that there is no time off for an advocate. You are always advocating your client’s story and narrative. And she set the tone early in Ghomeshi’s case by making it clear to the media they would not be trying their case before the media but only in Court. The only chance she has to overcome the media circus surrounding her client’s case is to distance him from it as quickly as possible.
The media attention surrounding the story has also ignited a conversation in Canada, as have other similar stories in the United States, about violence toward women. And as is typical in this business, people often ask how a woman criminal lawyer can represent someone who is charged with violating other women. The answer is simple, we are advocates first. There is only one focus when you are an advocate… your client.
It is so exciting to see Henein and other women criminal defense lawyers in Canada taking center stage in the criminal defense field. I will certainly be watching and will keep you posted.