Barrister / Senior Partner, Falconer Charney LLP, Toronto, ON. Born: Quebec.
Julian Falconer is a Barrister whose practice takes him to civil, administrative and criminal courts at both trial and appellate levels. He is bilingual and has argued cases in both English and French. A major component of Julian’s work has involved advocacy in human rights and public interest litigation.
Born and raised in a small rural town in Quebec and being the son of a Black Jamaican father and a White Jewish mother from Poland, Julian learned firsthand about issues of race in society. In the context of Coroners Inquests, Julian’s individual clients have included many families who have lost loved ones in altercations involving state authorities, be they police shootings or prison deaths. His practice also includes plaintiff’s personal-injury and commercial litigation, as well as criminal law.
While holding government actors accountable for human rights violations is the more public aspect of his practice, Julian’s trial work spans a broad range of litigation. His individual client base includes families, dairy farmers, police officers and lawyers. In addition to various corporate interests, Julian has acted as counsel for numerous community service organizations including Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto, Nishnawbe Aski Nation (First Nations government for Northern Ontario), the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted and Urban Alliance on Race Relations. Julian’s more prominent individual clients have included Maher Arar whose lawsuit, following his illegal rendition and torture in Syria, made Canadian legal history as the largest human rights settlement allotted to an individual plaintiff. Julian’s more recent briefs include representing Suaad Mohamud, the Canadian mother who was stranded in Kenya for three months following a botched passport investigation. He is also acting for the family of Ashley Smith, the 19 year-oldwho died in custody in horrific circumstances at Grand Valley Federal Penitentiary, and is representing the “Free Press Four” (independent journalists beaten and arrested by police) in relation to their unlawful detention during the G20 summit in Toronto.
Julian’s more notable work at the inquest and inquiry level has included acting on the Ipperwash inquiry into the death of Dudley George, as well as the Coroners’ Inquests into the deaths of Lester Donaldson, Robert Gentles, Edmund Yu and Wayne Williams. One of Julian’s most notable cases at the appeal level was his firm’s successful representation of the family of Manish Odhavji who was shot in the back and killed by police. The Odhavji case, as decided by the Supreme Court of Canada (see Odhavji et al v. Woodhouse et al 3 S.C.R. 263), is now the leading case on the right of private citizens to sue public officials (including police) for abuse of their offices. Julian recently also represented the Urban Alliance on Race Relations before the Court of Appeal in the Dee Brown case, which ultimately led to the Court of Appeal for Ontario, for the first time, recognizing racial profiling as a legitimate and valid defence for racial minority communities. Julian also acted as counsel for the African Canadian Community Coalition that includes the Urban Alliance and 35 other prominent anti-racism organizations that have been active in lobbying various police agencies for change in respect of the racial profiling by police.
Following the shooting death of Toronto high school student Jordan Manners at C.W. Jefferys School in May 2007, Julian was appointed by the Toronto District School Board to chair an independent inquiry into the safety of students across the school system. The School Safety Panel’s work resulted in a five volume report entitled “The Road to Health” which represents the most comprehensive review of youth and safety issues delivered on the Ontario school system (report found at www.schoolsafetypanel.com).
Julian has addressed countless institutions (including the Empire Club and the Rotary Club of Canada) on a broad range of topics including justice reform, racism and education. He has published numerous articles on issues of race and constitutional law. In his more recent work, Julian co-authored a second edition of his book into the Coroners System in Ontario and was also a contributing author to Honouring Social Justice, (Beare, M.E. ed.;article entitled “State Misconduct: A Continuum of Accountability”).
Featured in: Canadian Lawyer and The Lawyers Weekly.
Honours: Named one of Canada’s Top 25 most influential lawyers, Canadian Lawyer magazine (August 2010); selected as one of University of Toronto’s 100 most notable graduates of the twentieth century; Recipient of the Alumni Honour Award from the University of Alberta for Community Contribution; African-Canadian Achievement Award, Pride Magazine; Vision of Justice Award, Black Law Students Association-Canada; honoured by the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) for his Distinguished Public Service; Urban Alliance Race Relations Medal; inclusion in Who’s Who in Black Canada 2 (2006).
Education: Julian received his law degree from the University of Alberta, and holds degrees from McGill University and the University of Toronto where he graduated with the Innis College medal for academic distinction.