Eddie Greenspan, friend of justice

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DECEMBER 27, 2014


Eddie Greenspan, friend of justice


that had gone into the prepar-ation of the case. Eddie's clientdid not go to prison. His pun-pilna he passing of Eddie ishment was to be carried outGreenspan is not only in the community.... a very sad event for his As we were heading back.tofamily and friends. It leaves à his office, I asked Eddie aboutvoid for those who care about the case. It turned out it was ajustice. He is best known, of legal aid case. The legal aid feecourse, for his work in high would not pay even for his over-profile cases — cases often in- head. The case would never be.volving well-known people, important to anyone except hisor people who become well- client. I asked Eddie why heknown after they are charged had taken the case. He lookedwith criminal offences. What at me patiently and gave a veryis less well recognized is his simple answer: "It seemed likework.largely hidden from the right thing to do.”view. To me, it is thiese other Eddie has not only been aactivities that underscore his personal friend and colleaguepassionate belief in justice. . but a true friend to the Cen-As anyone who was close tre of Criminology and Socio-to Eddie knows, routine cases Legal Studies at the Universitygot as much of his attention of Toronto. In the early 1980s,and energy as his high-profile the centre was threatened bycases. Every case was import- · police with the possible seiz-ant to him because of his pas- ure of data and suppressionsionate belief that everyone of research findings. I askeddeserved a defence. There Eddie if he would representwere never any short cuts.: us. Believing in the import-Nothing could ever be taken ance of research and the valuefor granted.of evidence, he representedHe was the same when it us free of charge in a disputecame to public appearances that dragged on for two years.Nobody ever seemed surprised: For decades, he also spoketo see him speaking in front to introductory criminology.of large groups of import- classes at the university. Why?ant people. However, he also Because he thought it was im-spoke to small, less prominent portant for students to knowgroups. Given that he was al- what defence counsel do andways extremely busy, working to understand the values andlong hours, I asked him once' principles underlying Can-'.why he had agreed to speak adian justice.to a group of people at a To- Almost 28 years ago, whenronto church. His answer was Parliament was threateningsimple: “They asked me and I to bring back capital punish-was free that day." The reality" ment, he essentially stopped:is that all engagements were taking on new cases so thatsignificant to him, whether it he could respond to every inwas the Supreme Court or a vitation possible to speak out:church. More recently, he was against this barbaric penalty..disappointed not to be able to He travelled across the coun-speak to a group of seniors; he try at his own expense speak-was scheduled to be in court ing on and debating the.issue..Ion that day.Why? Because it was the right.One day, a number of years thing to do.ago, I was meeting Eddie afterIn recent years, he hascourt. His client was.pleading spoken and written oftenguilty (to selling drugs to an about the changes that theundercover police officer). It government has made in thewas a routine criminal case. criminal law. His concernThe courtroom was almost was always principled andempty. The only issue was the thoughtful: He believed insentence. The Crown prosecu- the importance of having ator was asking for prison time coherent, principled, and fairand gave good reasons for his. criminal law that deserves our 'position. Eddie gave a careful respect. It bothered him whenlegal argument suggesting, in others used the criminal lawa polite but forceful manner; for other purposes. .why prison was inappropriate Throughout all this, he al-in this particular case because, ways maintained a sense ofamong other reasons, of some humour and his humanity. He .medical conditions suffered will be missed by all those who .by the offender.know him, by those whom heHis submissions, though has helped over the years, andnot long, were detailed and by those who – knowingly orwell documented by medical not — have benefitted directlyevidence, and evidence of the and indirectly from the influ-kind of treatment that was ence he has had in Canada.available in prisons should hisNational Postclient be incarcerated. What Anthony N. Doob is professorwas obvious was the enor- emeritus of criminology at themous amount of time and care University of Toronto. :i!