Some of the earliest parole hearings I conducted were before Sergio Della Fortuna. He was on the Ontario Parole Board as a Member and as Vice-Chair for 18 years. I’m immensely proud to welcome him to our team as a senior consultant in my legal practice. Now recently retired from the Ontario Parole Board, he brings a wealth of experience that I’m sure will be incredibly valuable to our clients.
My office has represented hundreds of clients in their parole hearings. Sergio has presided over thousands. He has been responsible for training staff and fellow Board Members, has exchanged practices with the Parole Board of Canada and the Quebec Parole Board, has been invited widely as a speaker on the subject of parole, and so much more.
Before he retired from the Ontario Parole Board, Sergio was not one of the Members you especially wanted to see sitting across the table from you. Not if you were hoping for an easy time of things. He had a reputation even among inmates, who warned each other about the bald guy with the mustache. But he would grant parole to anyone with a strong enough plan if they were able to convince him they were serious about it. Often it wasn’t easy. Sometimes it might be next to impossible – because some hills are just harder to climb. Some inmates got the idea he didn’t like certain kinds of crimes, or certain parole applicants. That was never true. He just didn’t like weak parole plans or bad answers to tough questions.
I am especially proud that Sergio has chosen to align himself with the work we do in my practice because he believes we do it very well. In the time he’s been on the Ontario Parole Board, he’s seen it all. We’ve gone through times when parole was comparatively easy to obtain, with programs and resources available to support it. We’ve had times when it became incredibly difficult because everything designed to support parole was removed. And now we’re seeing a time when the Board is willing to consider parole, but where applicants are very much left to build their own plans as best they can – ideally with the help of experienced lawyers supported by knowledgeable staff. Which is where we come in.
Ever since parole became a special focus of my practice, I’ve been looking for every possible advantage to tip the odds back in favor of parole, especially for clients caught in a system determined to not help them. I know for a fact we’ve tried things – and sometimes succeeded – that no other lawyers were even attempting. Sergio is another big piece of this puzzle – the sort of resource parole applicants simply would not have access to in the past. I’m thrilled to be able to offer his expertise and experience to my clients.