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Legal scholar, extradition expert Gary Botting recognized by Trent U

published December 22, 2015

One of Canada’s foremost authorities on extradition has been awarded the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award by his alma mater, Trent University in Peterborough. In bestowing the prestigious award, Trent University president Leo Groarcke introduced Dr. Gary Botting as “one of Canada’s most prolific legal scholars and the country's ‘go-to expert’ on extradition.”

Botting is also well known for his defence of accused dangerous offenders.

He was in the opening class at Trent University in 1964, majoring initially in biology but subsequently switching to joint majors in English and philosophy. He is the author of a dozen books on extradition and constitutional rights and freedoms, including Halsbury’s Laws of Canada (Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance), Extradition Between Canada and the United States, Canadian Extradition Law Practice, and Wrongful Conviction in Canadian Law. Outside Canada, he has published in the United States and such far-flung places as Germany and Singapore.

His is the only law practice in Canada that declares extradition as its primary practice area. Coming a close second in his practice is his defence of dangerous offender candidates.

Botting has been counsel on a number of high-profile extradition matters that have set legal precedents, including the Gerald Gervasoni and Ronald Stewart cases in Victoria, the Karlheinz Schreiber case in Ottawa and Toronto, and the Clifford Edwards and Mark Eldon Wilson cases in Vancouver. He has represented many offenders alleged to be “dangerous”, including cases such as R. v. Boutilier, in which, earlier this year, Botting successfully challenged the constitutionality of the dangerous offender provisions of the Criminal Code.

He has not always been a lawyer. He started his career as a journalist with the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Years later, after receiving his Ph.D. in English literature, he began a second career, teaching university-level English literature and creative writing for 20 years. He became a published poet, playwright and novelist and had written books on the law even before entering law school at age 45.

Botting, who has practised law in British Columbia since 1991, says that he was drawn to focus on extradition and dangerous offender proceedings by the fact that in both instances judicial discretion is compromised by hidebound statutes. The accused persons face extremely high stakes: such as punishment in a foreign country or lengthy, even indeterminate, sentences.

Botting has been honoured with numerous awards and accolades during his career and has received federal fellowships, including a postdoctoral fellowship to research extradition and wrongful conviction law. He is an original University of British Columbia Paetzold Fellow.

In addition to his legal writing, he has won numerous awards as a playwright, poet, novelist and storyteller. He was named a “Professional of the Year” for 2015-16 by Worldwide Who's Who?