Born on this day...May 17, 1913 – G. Arthur Martin


G. Arthur Martin – lawyer and judge

 G. Arthur Martin

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of Canada’s most prominent criminal defence lawyers, G. Arthur Martin. Born Goldwin Arthur Martin on May 17, 1913, in Huntsville, Ontario, Martin was educated in Toronto at Oakwood Collegiate and the University of Toronto. He graduated with a BA and as a Gold Medallist in 1935. That same year, Martin was admitted to Osgoode Hall Law School. He was again a Gold Medallist and recipient of the Van Koughnet Scholarship upon his call to the Bar in June of 1938. He completed his articles with the law firm of Gordon, Mortimer, Kennedy & Doherty.           

Martin's career as a criminal defence lawyer was both prolific and successful. He defended individuals including Donald "Mickey" MacDonald, William Bohozuk, and, most notably, Steven Truscott. He was appointed a King's Counsel in 1945 and became a member of the Bar of British Columbia in 1950. In 1973, Martin was appointed a justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal, a position he held until his retirement from the bench in 1988. In addition to his legal practice, Martin was a legal educator, teaching criminal law and procedure part-time at Osgoode Hall Law School from 1942 until 1956.

Throughout his career, Martin participated in a variety of legal reform projects, including the development of universal legal aid, as well as bail and prison reforms. He was also a vocal opponent of the death penalty and an advocate for insanity defence in Canada. In 1965, he was appointed Vice-Chair of the Canadian Committee on Corrections, and he served as a member and Chair of the National Committee on the Judiciary from 1967 to 1973. After his retirement from the bench, Martin chaired the Attorney General's Advisory Committee on Charge Screening, Disclosure and Resolution Discussions.

Martin was involved in a number of professional associations, including the Canadian Bar Association, the York County Law Association, the Lawyers Club, the Phi Delta Phi fraternity and the International Commission of Jurists. Most notably, Martin had a long-standing association with the Law Society of Upper Canada, serving first as a bencher and then Treasurer of the Society. He was elected a bencher in 1956, a position he held until his election as Treasurer in May of 1970.

Among the many honours received during his career were Martin's appointments as an Officer (1991) and Companion (1997) to the Order of Canada. He also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Queen's University in May 1962. 

G. Arthur Martin died in Toronto, Ontario, on February 28, 2001.

The Law Society of Upper Canada Archives has in its collection the G. Arthur Martin fonds (PF184), donated to the Law Society in 2008.