The Probono Inmate Appeal Program

The Probono Inmate Appeal Program, formerly The Ontario Inmate Appeal Duty Counsel Program, started as a pilot program 1999. Defence counsel identified that a number of incarcerated inmates, often the most disadvantaged individuals, were forced to represent themselves in complex criminal appeal without legal assistance in either the preparation or argument of their appeals. The pilot project received the support, and continues to do so, of the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

Today there are 40 lawyers, all with appellate experience, who volunteer their time to act as duty counsel on a roster basis to cover 12 days of sittings in Kingston (two days every second month), 6 days of video-conference sittings in Toronto (on alternate months to Kingston) and 22 days per year (2 days monthly) in Toronto.

In 2013 the program received funding to hire a full time Paralegal. The full time employee acts as a point of contact for incarcerated appellants, and liaises on their behalf with Duty Counsel, Legal Aid Ontario, Crown Law Office – Criminal and the Court of Appeal for Ontario to ensure their appeal is dealt with in a timely manner.

If you have a family member who has recently be convicted of a crime and intends to appeal the conviction and/or sentence it is important to note they have thirty (30) days to do so, or, they will need to file an extension of time request and explain the delay. Once the appellant has initiated in inmate appeal please advise them to request our telephone number be added to their access PIN as soon as possible. The appellant should also contact Legal Aid Ontario and initiate an application for funding; it is important to note if Legal Aid funded the trial this will not cover the appeal.