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tled the law on the required mental element to sustain a conviction for dangerous
driving. There was extensive argument on the constitutional issues
as to the requisite mens rea for the Criminal Code offence of dangerous driving
as opposed to the provincial offence of driving without due care and
attention. This case, R. v. Hundal, 1993 1 S.C.R. 867, is still cited today by
all levels of court across Canada.
In 1994 Russ began acting as counsel for Bindy Johal. The police considered
Johal to be in charge of major drug trafficking in the Greater Vancouver
area. Despite being unable to bring any effective criminal charges
against him at this point, the police, he believed, continued to unlawfully
harass him. However, in 1995 Johal was arrested on charges of first degree
murder. Johal and several other co-accused were eventually brought to trial
for the murders of the Dosanjh brothers. Upon the arrests of all the accused,
Russ attended the Vancouver city jail and advised all individuals of their
constitutional right to remain silent. Eventually all accused retained separate
legal counsel and the team consisted of prominent Vancouver criminal
lawyers: David Gibbons, Q.C., Glen Orris, Q.C., Peter Wilson, Q.C., Richard
Peck, Q.C., Ian Donaldson, Q.C., and S.R. Chamberlain, Q.C.
This was one of the first trials in which cellphone usage and position of
persons who used cellphones were utilized. This was also the longest criminal
trial in the history of Canada at the time, as it took over nine months.
The jury ultimately acquitted all accused. It was during this trial that Gillian
Guess, a member of the jury, allegedly had an affair with one of the accused
and both were prosecuted and found guilty of obstruction of justice.
Russ was an extremely creative and proficient problem solver. When a
client was facing extradition and had been found attempting to procure a
false passport, he brought a successful application for bail before Justice
Wally Oppal. Russ was successful in getting his client released by placing
him effectively under house arrest, overseen by the watchful eye of an
internationally reputed security firm, paid for by his client, who had the
responsibility to report to S.R. Chamberlain and to court with respect to any
untoward behaviour by the accused relating to his release conditions. It was
the first time an individual in B.C. was granted bail on such unusual terms.
This plan was upheld by the Court of Appeal in Thailand v. Saxena (1998),
129 C.C.C. (3d) 518.
Although he loved the law immensely and rarely missed a day of work,
Russ loved his family even more. Besides the photos behind his desk, every
year on the first day of class he would take “first day of class photos” of his
children. This included photos of the children in their uniforms outside of
the house and outside of their respective schools.