Criminal Trial Lawyers Association

About Us

Current CTLA Executive

The current executive is comprised of the following members:

  1. President - Kelly Dawson
  2. Past President - Shannon KC Prithipaul
  3. Vice-President - Dan Chivers
  4. Secretary - Kathryn Quinlan
  5. Treasurer - Bob Aloneissi Q.C.
  6. Seminar Committee Chair - ex officio - Dale Knisely
  7. Board of Directors
    • D'Arcy DePoe
    • Mark Facundo
    • Danielle Boisvert
    • Mike Clancy


Burke Barker was a lawyer practicing in Edmonton at a time when the defence bar and the Crown’s office were still small. Much of the Crown’s work was handled, at that time, by the private firm of Shortreed Schoctor. It was a time in which jury trials were nearly non-existent and even regular trials were rare.

Mr. Barker called together a group of lawyers in 1977 and from that meeting the CTLA was born. Burke Barker, Robbie Davidson Q.C., Alex Pringle Q.C., Clayton Rice, Phil Lister Q.C., Jim Robb Q.C., Barrie Chivers, David Schwartz and Bruce Elman were, in that sense, the founders of our organization. They had a number of goals, but one main purpose – to develop a more specialized and aggressive criminal defence bar.

CTLA’s Past and Present Goals

To that end, the CTLA had, and continues to pursue, four principle objectives.

First, the founders of the organization saw a need for ensuring the continuing education of defence counsel. This need is perhaps even more pressing today than it was then, as the numbers of defence counsel, and members of the public who are in need of their services, continue to rise. To achieve that objective, the CTLA offers “Short Snapper” seminars, an annual seminar with internationally renowned guest speakers and publishes an informative newsletter.

Second, defence counsel needed a forum in which they could raise concerns and discuss them with like-minded individuals. The CTLA offers monthly meetings with the members, as well as meetings with the other participants of the judicial system to ensure that our members’ concerns are recognized, discussed and addressed.

Third, it was recognized that an organization such as the CTLA could play a significant role in reforming the judicial system when necessary. This political role of the CTLA manifests itself most clearly in the organization’s numerous interventions in serious cases. A few examples of cases in which the CTLA played an important role are listed below:

  • R. v. Biniaris, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 381
  • R. v. Molodowic, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 420
  • R. v. Rain, 1994 CarswellAlta 263, 25 Alta. L.R. (3d) 1, 157 A.R. 385
  • Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Assn. v. Alberta (Solicitor General) (2004), 188 C.C.C. (3d) 538, 2004 ABQB 534, (Alta. Q.B.)

Finally, the CTLA also endeavors to educate the public. There are often calls for stiffer penalties in criminal cases, as well as “reforms” which have the potential of eroding our civil and constitutional rights. In addition, the image society has of the defence lawyer does not always reflect the truly honourable character of that position. The CTLA ensures that the public hears a different perspective. While the organization recognizes society’s concerns about the prevalence of crime, the CTLA, through the press and the media, bring to the forefront the dangers and inefficacy of some of these more radical changes. The CTLA, along with the other participants in the legal community, wants to help protect, promote and improve the fine justice system which we currently have in Canada.

The CTLA has counted among its members many illustrious counsel of the defence bar. The list of past presidents reflects only a few of the fine individuals who have given of their time, energy and resources to serve this valuable organization. We invite you to become part of the CTLA’s future.

  1. 1977-1978 Burke Barker
  2. 1978-1979 Robbie Davidson Q.C.
  3. 1979-1980 Jim Robb Q.C.
  4. 1980-1981 Don McKenzie
  5. 1981-1982 Jim Brimacombe
  6. 1982-1983 Peter Royal Q.C.
  7. 1983-1984 Bob Sachs
  8. 1984-1985 Brian Beresh Q.C.
  9. 1985-1986 Gwilym Davies
  10. 1986-1987 Alex Pringle Q.C.
  11. 1987-1988 John Faulkner
  12. 1988-1989 Mary Moreau
  13. 1989-1990 Rick Stroppel
  14. 1990-1991 Doug MacEachern
  15. 1991-1992 Brian Holtby Q.C.
  16. 1992-1993 Marvin Bloos Q.C.
  17. 1993-1994 Mona Duckett Q.C.
  18. 1994-1995 Naeem Rauf
  19. 1995-1996 Karl Wilberg
  20. 1996-1997 Larry Anderson Q.C.
  21. 1997-1998 Ed O’Neill
  22. 1998-1999 Charles Davison
  23. 1999-2000 Michael Clancy
  24. 2000-2001 Terence Glancy
  25. 2001-2003 Ravi Prithipaul
  26. 2003-2005 Rod Gregory
  27. 2005-2007 Laura Stevens Q.C.
  28. 2007-2009 Brian Hurley
  29. 2009-2011 Deborah Hatch
  30. 2011-2013 D'Arcy Depoe
  31. 2013-2015 Shannon KC Prithipaul
  32. 2015-present Kelly Dawson

Many thanks to Jim Robb, Alex Pringle, and Robbie Davidson who assisted in filling in the details of the CTLA’s history.