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Laura Liscio, criminal lawyer arrested in court, has all charges withdrawn

06/25/2015 11:11 EDT | Updated 06/25/2016 05:59 EDT
A criminal lawyer in Toronto has been cleared of allegations she smuggled drugs to her clients on Thursday, adding more controversy to her already controversial arrest by Peel police.

Laura Liscio was arrested in early February in a Brampton, Ont., courthouse. Uniformed officers entered the court and arrested the 32-year-old Toronto criminal lawyer and led her out of the courthouse in handcuffs.

All charges against her were dropped on Thursday. Liscio thanked her lawyer, Stephen Bernstein, and left the courtroom without further comment.

Bernstein said he was confident of his client's innocence and the court's decision backed that up.

"The decision to withdraw the charges is the ultimate decision made by the Crown attorney's office," said
Acting Insp. Dan Richardson of the Peel police. "As the matter is still before the courts and another person is facing charges, we will not be making any further comment at this point."

Police alleged the lawyer smuggled drugs into the courthouse for a man she was defending. Liscio was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession for the purpose of trafficking, obstructing justice and breach of trust.

The obstruction of justice and breach of trust charges against Liscio were dropped in March.

Many members of the bar, including the Criminal Lawyers' Association, were outraged at the arrest. Dozens of lawyers wrote letters of support for Liscio, including high-profile lawyers like Clayton Ruby.

Led out of courtroom in gown

There was palpable anger over the manner in which Liscio was arrested, including arresting her in her lawyer's gown and not giving her notice or a chance to change into civilian clothes. The gown is a symbol of equality before the law and is not worn outside the courtroom.

The Peel police initially denied they led Liscio out of the court in handcuffs in her gown. They insisted she was never handcuffed until she was in civilian clothes. Police later withdrew that statement and admitted to arresting her in the courthouse with her gown on.

At the time, the Criminal Lawyers' Association supported Liscio. Spokesman Anthony Moustacalis called the arrest in full legal apparel an "affront to the administration of justice and to the independence of the bar."

The Toronto Lawyers Association has asked for a full inquiry into the arrest. Joseph Neuberger, the association's president, called the arrest "unjustified and unnecessary."

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