An accomplished litigator with a strong trial and appellate practice, UPFH partner Saman Wickramasinghe skillfully navigates the machinery of the justice system for clients in criminal and quasi-criminal law. Saman also applies his extensive litigation experience to navigate as counsel in labour arbitrations and professional disciplinary matters.
Saman has a wealth of experience litigating complex criminal cases at trial and routinely represents clients at the appellate level in the Superior Court of Ontario, the Ontario Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada. His practice ranges from the defense of clients charged with drug offenses, impaired driving offenses and weapons offences to sexual offenses and homicide. He has had particular success in litigating applications to exclude evidence under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Saman also represents workers, supervisors and companies charged under the Occupational Health and Safety Act in cases involving serious workplace injuries and fatalities. In many cases Saman will carefully negotiate the withdrawal of charges before trial.
Saman is among the experienced and dedicated lawyers who volunteer with the pro bono duty counsel programs in both the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Superior Court of Justice for Ontario. He is also a panel member of the Professional Regulation Committee at the Criminal Lawyers Association. Saman has been an invited panelist at conferences and legal education seminars on a wide range of topics – including cross-examination, trial advocacy, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and evidentiary matters.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in History from Boston College and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Windsor, Saman articled in criminal law at a prestigious labour-side firm and was called to the bar in 2007. He is a member of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, the Toronto Lawyers’ Association and the York Region Law Association. He has been a longstanding member of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario’s Board of Directors.
Decisions of Interest
- An appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada of a manslaughter conviction in which all five judges of the Court accepted the defence’s principal arguments and ordered a stay of proceedings for unreasonable delay.
R. v. Broomfield, 2014 ONCA 725 (CanLII)
- The Ontario Court of appeal overturned Ms. Broomfield’s conviction for administering cocaine to her son based on fresh evidence, adduced on appeal, that the hair-testing results that the Crown relied on at trial were unreliable. This case led to the suspension and provincial review of Hospital for Sick Children’s Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory’s program.
R. v. Mendez, 2018 ONCA 354 (CanLII)
- The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned Mr. Mendez’s first-degree murder conviction. Saman and Zachary Kerbel represented Mr. Mendez on his appeal and on his subsequent re-trial. On the re-trial, the jury acquitted Mr, Mendez of first and second-degree murder.
R. v. Jarvis, 2019 SCC 10 (CanLII)
- The leading case in Canada on voyeurism in which the Supreme Court clarified the legal interpretation of a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy.
R. v. Morris, 2021 ONCA 680 (CanLII)
- The leading decision on the relevance of evidence of anti-Black racism in sentencing proceedings involving Black defendants. Mr. Wickramasinghe represented social justice interveners the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, and the Colour of Poverty/Colour of Change organization.
R. v. J.L., 2018 ONCA 756 (CanLII)
- The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned J.L.’s sexual assault conviction in part because of the trial judge’s over-reliance on the complainant’s post-incident appearance and behaviour.