Jill R. Presser, B.A. (Hons), LL.B., was called to the Ontario Bar in 1997 after receiving her law degree from the Faculty of Law, McGill University, in 1994.
Jill’s practice is primarily devoted to criminal appeals, with some criminal and mental health trial work. She also does consulting, advocacy, law reform work, writing and speaking at the intersection of law and emerging technology, including cases involving digital rights, digital privacy/surveillance, and artificial intelligence work. Mental disorder law is also a major focus. Jill regularly appears at courts at all levels, including the Supreme Court of Canada. She defends clients facing a broad range of criminal charges including serious violent crimes, drug offences, white collar offences, and domestic assaults, among others.
Jill has been counsel on a number of notable cases, including: R. v. Safarzadeh-Markhali (Supreme Court of Canada struck down a section of the Truth in Sentencing Act as unconstitutional); R. v. Mills (Supreme Court of Canada considered reasonable expectation of privacy in online communications with an unknown anonymous person); R. v. Reeves (Supreme Court of Canada held that a third party may not consent to a police search of a shared computer); Ewert v. Canada (Supreme Court of Canada decided that actuarial risk assessment tools developed for a Caucasian population may not be used for Indigenous inmates by Corrections Canada); R. v. Jones (Supreme Court of Canada held that text messages are private, but that no wiretap authorization is required for historical text messages); R. v. Marakah (Supreme Court of Canada held that text messages in the hands of the recipient are private); R. v. Spencer (Supreme Court of Canada decided that subscriber information in the hands of an Internet service provider is private); R. v. Conception (Supreme Court of Canada dealt with treatment orders in forensic psychiatric hospitals); R. v. Dowholis (Court of Appeal for Ontario held that homophobic comments by a juror created a reasonable apprehension of bias); R. v. Delchev (Court of Appeal for Ontario held that the lawyer-client relationship is essential to the administration of justice, and that the Crown’s exercise of discretion is reviewable in some circumstances); R. v. Jack (Court of Appeal for Ontario substituted an acquittal for the trial court’s conviction in a robbery case for improper ID); Re Laberakis (Ontario Court of Appeal substituted an absolute discharge for disposition of Ontario Review Board).
Jill writes extensively in the areas of criminal law and evidence, mental disorder law, artificial intelligence law, digital rights, privacy, constitutional rights, and women in the legal profession. She is co-author of A Guide to Mental Disorder Law in Canadian Criminal Justice (LexisNexis, 2020). She is one of the editors of the forthcoming book Litigating Artificial Intelligence (Emond, spring 2021), and is co-author or single author of a number of chapters in this book. Jill has written a number of book chapters, including “Mom’s Rea: Motherhood, Criminal Defence, and Guilt” in Women in Criminal Justice (Trudell and Shyba eds., Durville Publications, 2018).
Jill was a staff lawyer to the Hon. Stephen Goudge on the Commission of Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic pathology in Ontario. She was an Adjunct Professor of Law and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law and has also been an Adjunct Professor at Osgoode Hall law school. She frequently organizes and speaks at continuing legal education programs for lawyers and judges organized by the National Judicial Institute, the Law Society of Ontario, the Advocates’ Society, the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, and the Law and Mental Disorder Association, and others. In November 2019 Jill was the Co-Chair of the Law Society of Ontario’s Special Lectures on Innovation, Technology and the Practice of Law. She Co-Chaired the Law Society of Ontario’s program “Criminal Law and the Charter” in 2013 and 2016. Jill delivered the keynote address at the 2020 Ontario Digital Evidence and eDiscovery Institute on the subject of algorithmic bias, and presented to the Criminal Lawyers’ Association’s Women’s Conference in 2019 on “Women Lawyers: Myths, Media, and Reality”
Jill is often appointed amicus curiae by the Court of Appeal for Ontario in appeals involving unrepresented mentally disordered appellants. She is the Vice-Chair of the Pro Bono Inmate Appeal Duty Counsel Program, and as a member of that organization she assists the Court of Appeal for Ontario as duty counsel for unrepresented inmate and in-person appellants. Jill prosecuted criminal matters on behalf of the Attorney General of Ontario on a part-time basis from 2001-2007.