Nova Scotia

Lyle Howe asks Crown attorney about racism in prosecution office

Halifax lawyer Lyle Howe questioned Crown attorney Alicia Kennedy on Thursday about alleged racism in the Dartmouth prosecution office.

Barristers' society has charged Howe with professional misconduct, professional incompetence

Lyle Howe is accused of professional misconduct and professional incompetence. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Halifax defence lawyer Lyle Howe is continuing to push his allegations of systemic racism as he defends himself before a hearing of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society.

The society accuses Howe of professional misconduct and professional incompetence.

The hearing started last year, resumed earlier this month and started again yesterday after a break of nearly three weeks.

This morning, Howe questioned Dartmouth Crown attorney Alicia Kennedy about her dealings with him and her perceptions of the Dartmouth courthouse.

Treated differently

"There's something wrong with that building," Howe said at one point during his questioning of Kennedy.

Howe alleged he's treated differently than other lawyers by the Crown and judges.

"The way that you're treated is a consequence of the way you conduct yourself," Kennedy told Howe.

Howe also implied that African Nova Scotian Crown attorneys are also subject to systemic racism.

He described one black Crown in the Dartmouth office as being ``so quiet, he`s almost non-existent."

That did not sit well with Kennedy, who defended her black colleagues: "That's so disrespectful. They're two of the best Crowns in Dartmouth."

'White privilege'

Howe questioned Kennedy about a directive that was issued about him after he was charged with sexual assault.

Dartmouth Crown prosecutors were not to meet alone with Howe and he was to be escorted when he was in the Crown office.

Howe said that raises the issue of "white privilege" and he questioned whether Duane Rhyno, a Lower Sackville lawyer charged with human trafficking and sexual assault, was ever subject to the same restrictions.

Rhyno is white, Howe is black. Criminal charges against Rhyno were eventually withdrawn.

Howe was initially found guilty in the sex assault case, but that conviction was overturned on appeal and the Crown opted not to conduct a second trial.

Experience with black Nova Scotians

Howe questioned Kennedy on her past experience with African Nova Scotians.

She told Howe there were only two or three black students at her high school when she was growing up in Shubenacadie.

She could only name two other black defence lawyers she dealt with during her time in the Dartmouth Crown's office. One of those defence lawyers is Howe's wife, Laura McCarthy.​

On Wednesday, Howe told the panel that most of the judges in Dartmouth are refusing to hear cases in which he's the defence lawyer.

Howe is trying to subpoena 12 provincial court judges to testify at this hearing.

The three-member panel has yet to rule on Howe's request, which is opposed by lawyers for the society and for the judges.

The ​CBC's Blair Rhodes live blogged from the hearing.

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