840 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 6 NOVEMBER 2020
Criminal defence lawyers often struggle with melding the two ideals
reflected in the following two quotes. The first is from Martin in his address:
I have heard many unlikely stories in my time from defendants; some surprisingly,
turned out to be true. Some cases look impossible; intensive preparation
indicates that they are not really so. Others, regrettably, from the
defence counsel’s point of view, not only look impossible but actually are.
The second quote is from Lord Brougham, in 1821, on resolute lawyering:
An advocate, in the discharge of his duty, knows but one person in all
the world, and that person is his client. To save that client by all means
and expedients, and at all hazards and costs to other persons, and,
amongst them, to himself, is his first and only duty; and in performing
this duty he must not regard the alarm, the torments, the destruction
which he may bring upon others.5
The relatively recent formation of criminal law organizations in B.C. like
the Criminal Defence Advocacy Society and the Association of Legal Aid
Lawyers attests to the commitment to criminal advocacy in British Columbia.
The 50-year anniversary of Martin’s address is an important milestone,
reminding the profession of the critical role that the criminal defence bar
plays in maintaining the rule of law.
I urge all to read Martin’s address (it is available online6). And for those
criminal practitioners who, even after doing so, at times feel the burden of
being brave and exposed in an often unforgiving and hostile arena, the following
words of Theodore Roosevelt are (reading the nouns and pronouns
as if updated) apt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong
man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is
marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who
comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and
shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows
great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy
cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither
know victory nor defeat.7
1. This address was delivered on June 26, 1970 in
Toronto, before Martin joined the Ontario Court of
Appeal in 1973. It is reproduced in 12 Crim LQ
2. Kent Roach, “G. Arthur Martin and the Rise of the
Respectable and Honourable Defence Lawyer”
(delivered at the Law Society of Ontario’s 13th Colloquium,
November 2010), online: <lawsociety
3. To paraphrase Tranio’s comments on “adversaries in
law” in The Taming of the Shrew.
4. With thanks to Rick Peck, QC, for reviewing this note
and for his guidance over the years.
5. The Trial of Queen Caroline 3 (1821).
6. Online: <www.courthouselibrary.ca>.
7. Theodore Roosevelt, “The Man in the Arena”
(address at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910) in
Theodore Roosevelt, Presidential Addresses and
State Papers and European Addresses (1910).