CITY & REGION
Monday, November 28, 2005 B 9
An early incident with a bully set lawyer Vaughn Marshall
on a path that sees him standing up for the abused.
Published: Monday, November 28, 2005, Page B-9
It wasn't the first time the neighbourhood bully had knocked into then 15-year-old
Vaughn Marshall on the rough streets of west
It wasn't even the most painful encounter. There'd been plenty of those.
"I'm only 5-91/2 now,"
This time, though,
"Robert said, 'Cut it out.
You can't do that,' "
It was also, he says,
transformative. Now over 50,
In a string of widely publicized legal cases, he has acted for women escaping polygamous marriages, a bereaved father taking on his own former religious sect, hepatitis C patients and natives abused at residential schools.
Last week, he celebrated a significant milestone in the fight to see former residential school students receive financial compensation.
An agreement unveiled by
Marshall and partner in the
His involvement started on a Saturday morning in 1997 at the Lethbridge Ruston Marshall office.
"This small group, all
Bloods, came in to see us,"
"They told us their stories, what had happened to them in the residential schools -- the abuse they had suffered," he says intently, peering over spectacles worn low on his nose.
"They ended up staying the whole day, and we made the commitment that day. We would see this through."
Phil Lane Jr. led the group of
men who met
"It became really clear to me, through the energy both Vaughn and Rhonda put into it that this was not something they were doing just because of money," said Lane from Seattle, where he now lives.
"This has taken a long time, and they have never given up. From what I can tell, Vaughn always stands by his clients."
Those clients have included
While not all of his cases are religious in nature -- he spent many years specializing in matters related to international banking, and current cases with his firm of Marshall Attorneys include a class-action over the drug Vioxx -- they are of particular interest.
"Anything that deals with institutional
coersion, particularly within religious
He's not anti-religion, he adds.
"A lot of people think I am,
because of the nature of the cases I've done, but I'm not,"
"For aboriginal peoples, it
wasn't just a case of potential wasted,"
He didn't know it, but the native
students at his
"I was a kid -- I didn't know anything about residential schools."
All he knew was that Robert was
boarded with an elderly woman who lived near the school.
"Seven kids in the house, and my parents said yes," he said. "Robert became my brother, but I never asked him what his experience had been."
They would lose touch in later years.
"That'll always be the
question for me -- what happened to Robert?" said