Burke Barker was a lawyer practising 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 point, 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 primary purpose: to develop a more specialized and aggressive criminal defence bar.
Over our history we have vocally advocated for due process protections and a robust Legal Aid system for the poor and working poor. The CTLA has appeared as intervenor on several important Supreme Court of Canada cases where some of the most fundamental criminal law issues of our time have been argued. Our policing committee headed up by Tom Engel has successfully litigated numerous important issues pertaining to police conduct and policy.