Defense

Jian Ghomeshi’s lawyer addresses criticism she “betrayed her gender”

Jian Ghomeshi leaves court with his attorney Marie Henein. (REUTERS/Jenna Marie Wakani)

Marie Henein, the defense lawyer of Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi who was acquitted last week on sexual assault charges has defended herself against accusations that she “betrayed her gender,” saying she was just doing her job. “I think justice was served,” Henein told the CBC in an interview. “Justice does not mean that you are guaranteed the result that you want,” she said, adding, “I think it is pretty significant that in one of the highest-profile cases, in one of the cases where everybody had an opinion … that you knew that you could walk into court and that there would be an impartial person that would decide on the evidence that is heard.”

Ghomeshi was found not guilty on four different counts of sexual assault and one of “choking to overcome resistance” during one of Canada’s most well-publicized trials in recent history. As the tough and sometimes theatrical defense lawyer, Henein became part of the narrative — and was criticized on social media for picking apart complainant’s testimonies, prompting people to use the hashtag #IBelieveSurvivors. “On a personal level if somebody wants to express their support [to a complainant], that’s their choice,” said Henein. “Hashtag I believe is not a legal principle, nor should it ever be.”

Henein is known as a feminist, who has often spoken up about the underrepresentation of women in law, causing many to be disappointed with her for taking up the defense of someone accused of sexual assault, which some saw as a betrayal of women.  “I respect their right to say it,” Henein said of that critique. “I don’t respect their opinion or agree with it. I know who I am, I know what my beliefs are, there’s no question in my mind and I don’t feel the need to have to justify myself,” adding that male lawyers would rarely be accused of such a thing if they had an opposing opinion, and claiming this case for her was just one like any other.

Some activists, however, pointed out that the Canadian legal system often fails at prosecuting sexual assault crimes, as only about 3 in every 1,000 cases leads to a conviction. While Henein agrees there is room for improvement there, she argued that the conversation on this topic “should be informed, should be dispassionate, and should be meaningful and should be objective.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.

Related:

Judge in Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault case casts doubt on credibility of plaintiffs

The downfall of a Canadian radio host is the sexual assault case you need to know about

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