Pubdate: Thu, 19 Feb 2015
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 The Toronto Star
Author: Katrina Clarke
Page: GT4


After denying Laura Liscio was arrested in court attire, Peel officers
concede it's true

Peel police admit they were wrong about the circumstances surrounding
the arrest of Toronto lawyer in Brampton court last week but refuse to
reveal details about the false claims.

In a Wednesday press release, Peel Regional Police said it regretted
publishing "misinformation" in a news release Friday. The Friday
release took aim at reports on the details of a Toronto lawyer's
arrest in a Brampton courthouse, denying that police handcuffed
criminal lawyer Laura Liscio in her court attire and saying she was
escorted to an unmarked police vehicle by plainclothes officers.

Police now say that information was wrong.

"Upon arrest Ms. Liscio was indeed handcuffed in her court attire and
escorted to a discreet location within the Court Bureau," the
Wednesday release read. "Following her arrest, Ms. Liscio was escorted
by both uniformed and plainclothes officers to a marked cruiser."

The admission comes days after Toronto's legal defence community
decried police's handling of Liscio's arrest, calling it humiliating
and uncalled for.

Liscio, 32, was arrested on charges of drug possession, trafficking,
obstructing justice and breach of trust last Thursday after police
alleged she "smuggled" drugs into the courthouse. A source familiar
with the case said Liscio handed her client's clothing to a court
security officer andmarijuana was found in the garments.

"Obviously this is a step in the right direction - righting wrongs
that were put before the media and before the world," said Liscio's
lawyer, Stephen Bernstein, Wednesday evening. "This does not erase the
devastation and embarrassment of how she - an officer of the court, an
ethical person and above all a human being - was treated."

Bernstein spoke out last week following first news release, telling
the Star his client was indeed handcuffed in her court attire - though
police eventually seized her robe - and uniformed officers put Liscio
into a marked police cruiser. "As you can see, I was accurate," he

Peel police Const. Thomas Ruttan said the errors were due to a
"miscommunication" revealed through an internal investigation: "We
determined throughout the last couple of days that we had information
that was not correct."

Ruttan said he was unaware of anyone being reprimanded as a result of
the miscommunication and said he was unable to say whether the error
came from investigators or the arresting officers.

"All I can tell you is that we regret publishing this misinformation
and the impact that it has on . . . the members of the media, Ms.
Liscio and obviously the members of our own organization," said Ruttan.

Daniel Brown, a Toronto director for the Criminal Lawyers'
Association, called the error-laden news release "troubling" and said
it raises questions about police credibility. "If we can't trust them
to issue an accurate press release, how can we trust them when they
come to court and give sworn evidence under oath?" he said.

Brown said he wants an inquiry into how police handled Liscio's
arrest, including "parading" her through court in her robes. "It's the
Criminal Lawyers' (Association's) belief that this was an attempt for
the Peel police to embarrass (Liscio) and to demean her profession,"
he said. "It was meant to send a message."

Liscio's first court appearance is scheduled for March

- - With files from Wendy Gillis and Betsy Powell
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