Episode 16 - Canadian vs. American Law: Litigation as an Agent of Change

Join Jennifer Brevorka as she sits down with American criminal defence duo, David Rudolf and Sonya Pfeiffer. David, who gained international recognition for his representation of Michael Peterson, and Sonya Pfeiffer, an award-winning journalist and criminal defence lawyer, give us an inside look at their lives and careers in Toronto, and why they left America for Canada. 

Following the Peterson case, David pivoted his practice to wrongful conviction litigation, while Sonya focused on civil litigation and family law. Witnessing the polarization and divisiveness seeming to consume American culture over the last three years, David and Sonya decided to make the move to Canada – a move many Americans claim they will make during times of public outrage, but rarely follow through on.

Are American lawyers more assertive and willing to take on abuses of power? Does the Canadian justice system’s cost-based model make it harder to use litigation as an agent of public change? In this episode, David and Sonya shed light on their experiences practicing in America and Canada, examining how legal approaches and societal attitudes influence our respective justice systems. They discuss charter litigation, civil rights, and evidence-based investigation, as well as societal attitudes toward civic responsibility, multiculturalism, and privacy. 

Other topics include:

  • The Staircase documentary

  • Michael Peterson’s release

  • The infamous post-conviction “Owl Theory” 

  • David’s new book “American Injustice” 

Guest Host:

Jennifer Brevorka, a partner at Henein Hutchison Robitaille LLP in Toronto, specializing in criminal and civil litigation.

Special Guests:  

David Rudolf, criminal and civil rights lawyer, famous for his representation of Michael Peterson, and current consultant at Brauti Thorning LLP in Toronto, specializing in criminal law and civil litigation. 

 Sonya Pfeiffer, award-winning journalist, and defence counsel at Brauti Thorning LLP in Toronto, specializing in criminal law, civil litigation, and family law. 

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