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Sandy DiMartino’s legal practice primarily focuses on criminal defence and quasi-crimin/regulatory matters. Her personal commitment to deliver excellence in the pursuit of justice grew out of her passion for this area of the law and extensive practical experience, both as per diem Crown counsel in Guelph and Brampton and as defence counsel in private practice.

The words “Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice” are engraved on Sandy’s business cards. When I asked her to explain the inspiration behind these words, she told me, “In a criminal matter, justice is finding the answer to a specific problem that appropriately balances public safety with punishment.” In other words, you cannot apply the same approach in the same way every time, because the individuals involved (defendants, complainants, victims, witnesses) and the situations are always different.

Sandy’s work is predicated on the belief that that every individual and every circumstance is unique.

“Whether I’m acting as Crown counsel and passionately arguing for what’s in the best interest of public safety or whether I’m advocating on behalf of a defendant, I stay focused on the fact that I am dealing with real people and with real problems. I always seek the solution that achieves the highest good for everyone involved, in each specific case. This helps me bring some form of peace and harmony into the world.

”Until Sandy said them, I had never heard the words “peace and harmony” used to describe the practice of criminal law. But, it makes sense in this instance. Here’s why. Sandy has prosecuted hundreds of cases on behalf of the public, and she has become intimately acquainted with the various documents, witness statements, photographs, and other forms of evidence that the Crown is likely to rely upon in any given prosecution.

Sandy’s experience as Crown counsel has enhanced her knowledge and insight from a prosecution perspective. This complements her defence practice and provides her with the necessary negotiation skills in representing the best interests of her clients.

“Because I have had the opportunity to gain experience as a prosecutor and as defence counsel, I can review cases from both perspectives. My clients appreciate the experience that I bring in assisting them with achieving the best results in the circumstances. My experience also assists me in my negotiations with counsel, whether I am negotiating with Crown counsel or with defence counsel,” she adds.

In every criminal case, Sandy focuses on three specific goals - mounting a passionate defence, encouraging her clients to get the necessary help to deal with the underlying problem that led to the criminal behaviour where appropriate (e.g. substance abuse that led to a robbery or break and enter), and guiding those clients to the necessary resources including counselling and rehabilitation.

Sandy believes this three-pronged approach is in the best interests of the client as well as the public because it addresses both specific and general deterrence. Provided these goals are met, when it is time for her client to appear in court, he or she can unequivocally state, “I know I have a problem. I don’t want to reoffend. Here are the steps I’ve taken to rehabilitate myself so that I can become a productive member of society.

Taking responsibility and demonstrating remorse requires some form of concrete action, such as enrolling in a rehabilitation program and/or volunteering where the client chooses to accept criminal responsibility for their actions. These positive steps, if successfully completed, are considered “mitigating factors” on sentencing when it comes time for a judge to determine the appropriate sentence.

From her earliest university days, Sandy enjoyed the criminal law courses the most. “I have always been passionate about criminal law. Every individual and every circumstance is unique. I find this contextual aspect intellectually stimulating and rewarding in many ways. Criminal law allows me to demonstrate my passion, curiosity and commitment to excellence in new and unusual ways,” Sandy says.

Sandy proves that one can live a balanced and successful life. She has a career and a partner she loves. Their healthy and active toddler turned two this past June. The family gets hours of entertainment from their energetic and loving pug named “Outlaw.”

Sandy is also very passionate about her volunteer work, as it helps to keep her grounded and to appreciate the small things in life like a smile or a hug. She always makes time to, “Give back to the community” through her volunteer work with terminally ill children and their families at HospiceToronto. She has also been a Big Sister to the same person for approximately twenty years.

Sandy loves all forms of live theatre, taking long walks in nature, jazz music, gardening, meditation, and travelling. “The practice of criminal law can be taxing. I find gardening peaceful and therapeutic. I love the smell of the earth. More importantly, I love seeing the results of my efforts. Because I leave the phone inside when I am gardening, I also love disconnecting from the world’s problems, even if it’s just for a short period of time,” she says with a smile.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said that, “The only thing that is constant is change.” Sandy started her career as a civil litigator at a Bay Street firm. After approximately four and a half years of private practice, she made the decision to follow her passion for criminal law where the clients, the circumstances, and the issues are constantly changing. “That is one of the reasons I love criminal law,” she says. Sandy’s life is about to change again as she begins to devote more time to prosecution work and to teaching a Canadian criminal law course at Osgoode Hall Law School and an Ethics course (The Legal Profession) at her alma mater, the University of Windsor Faculty of Law.

“It is possible for a woman to have work/life balance. It may take some time to achieve a balance that works for you. I had some challenges along the way, and I chose to make some changes that made sense for me in achieving my goals both on a personal and a professional level. I have a great career doing important and fulfilling work and I have earned the respect of my professional colleagues through my dedication and hard work. I am blessed with a loving and fun-filled family life and a pet that I adore.

I make the time to volunteer because giving back to the community means a lot to me. One of the most important points that I learned from my training for my volunteer work is that we have to make sure that we take care of ourselves. Although I may get caught up with my work and family responsibilities, I always remember to make sure that I include time in my busy schedule to engage in the activities and hobbies that I find relaxing and therapeutic. I’m proof that it is possible to do great things and to have a balanced and fulfilling life if you work at it,” Sandy says.

Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category

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