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Crown prosecutors honoured for contributions to justice system

Wednesday, July 24, 2019 @ 1:02 PM | By John Chunn

The outstanding accomplishments of Canadian prosecutors were recognized by the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Heads of Prosecutions Committee at an awards ceremony held July 22 in Quebec City. The award program, instituted in 2006, honours professional excellence, exemplary service and outstanding achievements.

The following prosecutors were chosen for their contributions to advancing and promoting the role of prosecutors within the Canadian criminal justice system:

The Commitment to Justice Award 2019 was awarded to Mary Humphrey, assistant Crown attorney with the Ontario Crown Attorney's Office in Toronto, and to Croft Michaelson, former Crown prosecutor with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC).

According to the PPSC’s press release, Humphrey was recognized for her commitment to justice, education and mentorship as a Crown prosecutor. She spent many years specializing in the prosecution of sexual abuse and child abuse cases and was one of the first assistant Crown attorneys to specialize in Internet child exploitation cases. Over the past 10 years, she has focused on complicated homicide cases, such as the Eaton Centre shooting (R. v. Husbands) and the trials of a father and stepmother accused of the murder of their daughter in R. v. Biddersingh. She has also worked throughout her career to provide education and mentorship to other attorneys, including working with less experienced lawyers and providing them with opportunities to gain experience in court.

Michaelson was recognized for a career of creating long-term positive impact on the Canadian justice system. In 1997, he was instrumental in developing the first pilot Drug Treatment Court in Toronto, which became a model of restorative justice for subsequent drug treatment courts. He has extensive experience as trial and appellate counsel at all levels of court, and he has argued constitutional issues in the Supreme Court of Canada such as unreasonable delay in the Jordan and Cody cases, the Canada Evidence Act regime in the Ahmad case, and the new terrorism offences in the Criminal Code in the Khawaja case. He also led educational programming and training for prosecutors throughout their careers as the principal of the PPSC School for Prosecutors from 2006 to 2011.

The Courage and Perseverance Award 2019 was awarded to Jason Mitschele, counsel with the PPSC’s Ontario Regional Office in Toronto. Mitschele has a visual impairment that requires the assistance of a service dog, special equipment and support staff assists with the preparation of work for court. Despite the challenges his impairment poses, Mitschele has prosecuted at all court levels in Ontario, including the Court of Appeal. He is the national adviser for people with disabilities on the PPSC's Diversity and Inclusion committee, an appointee on the City of Toronto's Accessibility Advisory Board and director of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind.

The Humanitarian Award 2019 was awarded to Lynn Ann Grzela, Crown attorney with the Ontario Crown Attorney’s Office in Kapuskasing. Grzela has worked for 20 years to improve access to justice for remote, largely First Nations communities in northern Ontario, despite the challenges of geography, weather, and sometimes a lack of appropriate facilities. She has created a victim services plan for the remote fly-in community of Attawapiskat, developed a Crown consultation process with police agencies for accused persons arrested in remote communities and worked with a team to use video access to remotely attend hearings or interview victims and witnesses when weather made travel impossible. Her dedication to victims and witnesses also included bringing food during court sessions, and warm clothing, especially when the facilities were not adequately heated.

The FPT Heads of Prosecutions Committee brings together the leaders of Canada’s prosecution services to promote assistance and co-operation on operational issues relating to criminal prosecutions. The committee also provides the prosecution perspective to Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers and Deputy Ministers Responsible for Justice.