Posthumous award for Osgoode law legend

Osgoode Hall Law School professor Dianne Martin, who died suddenly late last year, has been posthumously awarded Legal Aid Ontario’s Sidney B. Linden Award. Martin is the first recipient of the award, which Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) created to honour exceptional individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to helping low-income people in Ontario and have given their time, expertise and/or service to ensuring access to justice.

Right: Dianne Martin

The award is named in honour of LAO’s first Chair of the board of directors, Justice Sidney B. Linden, who has been involved with Legal Aid for over 30 years and whose distinguished professional career has been characterized by a genuine commitment to issues concerning access to justice.

Martin’s legal career, which spanned almost 30 years, included private practice for more than 10 years before she became a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School. She was the co-founder of the Innocence Project, based at the law school. Under the project, a small group of law students work under the direction of the project’s directors to argue for the innocence of the wrongly convicted.

An award selection committee, consisting of Chief Justice Brian Lennox, Bruce Elman, dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor, Janet Leiper, LAO Chair, Aly Alibhai, member of the LAO board of directors and Peter Bortolussi, former LAO board member, selected Martin from among 15 nominees.

“Dianne was a truly exceptional individual – a hero to many – who demonstrated a passionate commitment throughout her career to social justice,” said Leiper.

“The award selection committee unanimously agreed that Ms Martin embodied the spirit of this award by championing the rights of the most vulnerable people in our society,” said Aly Alibhai, Chair of the award selection committee.

Martin is the author of several books and numerous journal articles, papers and reports. She also presented at various legal and public symposia and conferences across North America. Her books include The Law of Evidence: Fact Finding, Fairness and Advocacy (Toronto, Emond Montgomery, 1999), with Christine Boyle and Marilyn MacCrimmon. She wrote “Unredressed Wrong: The Extradition of Leonard Peltier from Canada”, in Susan Boyd and Robert Menzies’ book Using Power: The Canadian Experience (Fernwood Publishing, 2001).

Martin served for many years on the board of directors at Parkdale Community Legal Services and volunteered for various Legal Aid Ontario advisory committees.

An award presentation is being planned for mid-April.